In a major about-face, Community Board 8 wants to rezone an industrial area in northern Crown Heights to allow residential buildings. It would allow taller buildings and require subsidies for the housing, to make it affordable to those earning the median in the area.
The board voted yes Thursday to send a request to City Planning to study the area for a rezoning, DNAinfo reported. Readers may recall that a similar request from neighboring Community Board 9 has been bogged down in controversy for more than a year.
This is a major change of direction for the board, which a few years ago rejected an attempt by a group of artists to create artist-owned live-work housing in a building in the area. The board wanted to keep the area industrial to limit gentrification in the area. (more…)
At a highly anticipated meeting of Community Board 9 Tuesday with potential for controversy over hot-button issues such as zoning, much time was given over to presentations on flu shots and personal finance tips.
Community Board Chairman Dwayne Nicholson, pictured speaking above, admitted a controversial vote in September over zoning was miscounted, and blamed noise and disruption of the meeting by MTOPP protestors for the error. (Community group MTOPP has accused the board of incompetence or fraud.)
Nicholson seemed at pains to avoid discussing the issue further, and would not allow any public comment at the meeting. At the last minute, just as Nicholson was wrapping up, board member and Q at Parkside blogger Tim Thomas raised the subject again and attempted to vote in a revised request for a zoning study. (We published his revision last week.) But his motion was quickly quashed, to the cheers of MTOPP, which has called for public meetings on the matter.
Nicholson said there will be a zoning training workshop for board members, followed by one public meeting of the land use committee to rework the zoning study request. Both will take place before January 28, he promised. The land-use committee has not met all year, said attendees, although all committees are required to meet at least five times. The housing committee has also not met recently.
At issue is whether or not buildings over six stories will be permitted in the largely low-rise neighborhood. Community Board 9 covers Prospect Lefferts Gardens and the south side of Crown Heights. Residents and community groups have blamed high-rise luxury buildings for gentrification and rising housing costs in the area.
There was a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting for the victims of the stabbing incident Monday at 770 Eastern Parkway, the synagogue and headquarters for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Council Member Laurie Cumbo gave an impassioned speech about it, in which she also addressed the zoning controversy.
“We have to give this community board a chance. If this continues, we will not move forward effectively,” she said, referring to disruptions at community board meetings. “I want to ensure we all have a voice. But we need to be respectful of each other.”
Three members of MTOPP had signed up in advance to speak at the meeting, but were not permitted. “They don’t want to hear our voices,” shouted MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd.
By all accounts, Tuesday’s Community Board 9 meeting was a doozy. From what we can piece together from some half dozen accounts in the media and what others have told us, since we weren’t present, in short, a huge number of opponents of upzoning Empire Boulevard disrupted the meeting, and Community Board 9 members responded in kind. Total chaos reigned, with lots of shouting and name calling; the board could not keep order and fanned the flames.
CB9 District Manager Pearl Miles yelled “shut up” at the crowd repeatedly (there is a video), District Leader Geoffrey Davis refused to relinquish the microphone, and the police were summoned multiple times to keep order. (For a play-by-play, including an outrageous exchange between the crowd and District Leader for the 43rd Assembly Diana Richardson, read the story on Brooklyn Brief.)
Eventually, under pressure, the board took a vote on whether or not to rescind an earlier decision to study the rezoning. The vote to rescind passed, but then it turned out that it really didn’t, according to New York City rules for community board votes.
In the words of Q at Parkside blogger Tim Thomas, who favors the rezoning (or at least is not opposed to it):
Karim Camara and reps from every major official, from the Mayor on down, were there and they were absolutely floored, speechless. The guy from Yvette Clarke’s followed me out to the parking lot with eyes wide saying “how could you let this happen? this was INSANE!” I told him L’shanah Tova and rode home.
Meanwhile, upzoning opponent and MTOPP member Adrian Untermyer filed suit yesterday to get a copy of the community board’s bylaws.
At issue is whether Prospect Lefferts Gardens will rezone to end high-rise development, which has recently taken off in the neighborhood. Some residents blame tall buildings for gentrification while others say high-rise development will bring much needed affordable housing to the area.
Three community boards are fighting over jurisdiction of the 22 acres that make up the Atlantic Yards development. Most of the complex, which runs along Atlantic Avenue near the intersection of Flatbush Avenue, is technically in Prospect Heights, with a small section in Park Slope. But the community boards don’t exactly follow neighborhood lines, so bits of it belong to CB 2, 6, and 8.
Why it matters is not really clarified by a story examining the matter in detail in The New York Times. The CBs are responsible for things like trash pickup, liquor license reviews and noise complaints. Developer Forest City Ratner says “all the districts would share local hiring and affordable housing opportunities regardless of what happens.” A few observers say it would be easier to oppose the development if responsibility for it were concentrated in one community board.
Click through to the story for a helpful map showing exactly where Atlantic Yards is going to go. Above, the rail line portion that runs along Atlantic Avenue from Barclays Center to Vanderbilt Avenue in the snow in February. It’s eventually supposed to be covered by a platform and six towers.
Community Board Six’s land use committee voted yes on a variance for Methodist in exchange for the Park Slope hospital altering its expansion plans yet again. The subcommittee requested more scaling down of the eight story structure as well as fewer parking spaces, less signage and the appointment of a construction task force, the New York Daily News reported. The full community board will vote on the proposal tonight. The vote is non binding.
At a Community Board Eight meeting Thursday, CWB Architects presented a modern-style townhouse to go into an empty lot in a landmarked area of Prospect Heights. The board wasn’t quite sure what to make of the proposal for 576 Carlton Avenue, according to Curbed.
The new build would be four stories and for a single family. “It’s a beautiful design, but it doesn’t seem to be in context with everything else on the block,” said board member Curtis Harris. As Curbed notes, CWB has lots of experience building in landmarked areas.
Click through to the Curbed story to see more. What do you think of the proposed design?
Last night, Community Board Six held a public hearing on the Department of Transportation’s 4th Avenue streetscape proposal, and Streetsblog reports that the full board voted to approve a modified version of the plan. If you recall, the CB6 Transportation Committee approved the initial proposal, but the full board voted it down. DOT’s tweaks, according to Streetsblog, were modest, and included retaining three lanes of traffic northbound on Fourth Avenue starting at Carroll Street, rather than Union Street, reducing the left turn bans from eight to six, and adding a painted curb extension to the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street. The DOT also stressed the benefits of the plan for drivers, not just pedestrians. The resolution ultimately passed with Community Board Six asking the DOT to add greenery to the medians. Get the full rundown of the meeting over at Streetsblog.
The developers Read Property Group LLC are applying to rezone a large swath of Bushwick land to build a development with 10 eight-story buildings, 977 apartments, two extra streets, open space, and retail. Both DNAinfo and the Daily News attended the Community Board Four meeting where the developers presented their plans. (The developer already applied for a rezoning with the City, and now must go through a lengthy land-use review process, as we reported in August.) The proposal, slated for the old Rheingold Brewery site near Woodhull Hospital and the Flushing Avenue J train station, includes 54,000 square feet of retail space, 17,000 square feet of public open space, and 242 units of affordable housing. The developers plan to rebuild two streets that were in the area when it was home to several breweries — Stanwick Street between Montieth and Forest streets and Noll Street between Stanwick Street and Evergreen Avenue. Not surprisingly, these plans were met with many concerns by the community board, which is actually working to downzone areas of Bushwick. CB4 delayed its decision until the developers can provide more information on affordable housing, how much parking will be included, and the impact on local schools. Many residents asked that more affordable housing be included. Once the developer makes it through the community board, they need to take the plans to the borough president and city council for the zoning change. If all goes according to plan, they hope to complete the development in 2016. Developer Read Property Has Vision for Old Rheingold Brewery Site [NY Daily News] Controversial Bushwick Rezoning to Add High Rises, Streets and Retail [DNAinfo] Developer Moves on Plans for Big Bushwick Complex [Brownstoner] Rendering via DNAinfo
Community Board One’s land-use committee will hear a very interesting proposal from the Open Space Alliance at its meeting on Wednesday night. The OSA and the Parks Department want to close off streets around McCarren Park, in Williamsburg, to expand the park and to connect sections of the park currently separated by a road. The proposal asks for “the discontinuance and closing of Union Avenue from North 12th Street to Driggs Avenue,” “the discontinuance and closing of a portion of Driggs Avenue at its former intersection at North 13th Street,” “the establishment of an addition to McCarren Park,” and “the adjustment of grades necessitated thereof.” As the Brooklyn Paper reported, by “demapping” one block between Driggs Avenue and North 12th Street, the park would gain 33,8000 square feet. The plan would also connect the triangular section of the park, home to the dog run and farmers market, with the park’s southern end. The roadway would be replaced with planting beds, shrubs, loading zones and catch basins. But because the plan takes away 34 parking spaces, it is facing some resistance from neighborhood drivers. Should make for an interesting meeting! If you’re interested in attending, the land-use committee is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 pm at 435 Graham Avenue. Jed Walentas is also on the schedule to present some information about the Domino Sugar conversion. Plan to Expand McCarren Isn’t Getting a Greenlight from Drivers [BK Paper] Union Avenue and North 12th Street, via Gmap
Tonight the Community Board Two land-use committee will hear an interesting proposal to redevelop seven lots along Fulton Street between Grand Avenue and Downing Street. Above, five privately owned lots are marked in pink. The applicant also wants to develop two adjacent city-owned properties, lots two and three. Presumably a very large development will go in on the seven lots, which are currently empty. According to a Community Board Two bulletin, “The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is willing to consider transferring the property in what is known as a negotiated sale. However, before the agency will prepare a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) application for the disposition of the two lots, it requests a preliminary opinion from CB2.” A negotiated sale means the City would work out a deal with the applicant but not sell the lots on the open market. The identity of the would-be developer was not disclosed; architectural firm Aufgang and Subotovsky and legal firm Akerman Senterfitt LLP, which specializes in zoning, land use and development, will present. GMAP
Last night, the public review process for the Two Trees development located in the BAM Cultural District kicked off at the Community Board Two meeting. Two Trees Director of Special Projects Dave Lombino presented the project. It will include a 30-story rental building with 20 percent affordable units, 225 on-site parking spaces, a 10,000-square-foot public plaza, a library, cinema, rehearsal space, a restaurant and cafe, and 15,500 square feet of retail space. The Brooklyn Public Library currently on Pacific Street will close and move into this new development, and the branch will work with BAM to provide cultural initiatives. BAM will run the cinema, which will include three mid-size theaters. And the nonprofit 651 Arts will run the rehearsal spaces, where a preference will be given to Downtown Brooklyn arts groups. Architect Enrique Norten spoke about the design (the renderings presented last night are those already circling the media), and said it is still a work in progress. He spoke on the challenges of designing for the triangular site, as well as building something right in the heart of the BAM Cultural District. Ultimately, Two Trees was seeking Community Board Two’s blessing for a zoning change, so they can increase the height of the development by about 10 stories and add more residential and community facility space. Some residents of One Hanson showed up and stated that the design for South Site, as it is now known, will block the view of the historic clock tower at One Hanson. They suggested a more dramatic cut-back of the building to reveal more of the clock tower in the skyline view. Residents and community board members also expressed concern about the sign illumination (the application for public review also asked for extra illuminated signage), possible congestion caused by the building’s parking entrance on Ashland Place, and the terraces on the building, which were said to be “uncharacteristic of the neighborhood.” The land-use committee approved the design with conditions on the abatement of noise, the removal of terraces, a traffic plan, and an unobtrusive illumination plan. Review Process Starts for BAM Cultural Build [Brownstoner] Major Developments Planned for BAM Cultural District [Brownstoner]