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After more than a year of controversy and drama, the full board of Community Board 9 voted yes on asking City Planning to conduct a study of zoning in the area, which covers Prospect Lefferts Gardens as well as some blocks in the southern part of Crown Heights and a bit of East Flatbush.

The supporters of the study want City Planning to downzone the area so tall towers such as 626 Flatbush, pictured under construction above, are not allowed, while also allowing for the construction of mixed-income subsidized housing of a modest height in some areas. The neighborhood has been roiled by rising rents and a building boom, as we have detailed in countless stories. (more…)

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At a contentious meeting of the Cobble Hill Association Monday night, LICH developer Fortis presented plans for an as-of-right 44-story tower and other high-rise apartment buildings that would tower over Cobble Hill. Much of the area is landmarked and no more than four stories high.

Fortis also presented a second plan that would have slightly lower buildings but require a special zoning variance and formal public review, the Brooklyn Paper reported.

Curiously, the $240,000,000 sale has not yet closed, although it was supposed to April 30. A Fortis spokesman said the company expects the sale to go through in the next few weeks but did not explain the delay, said Brooklyn Paper. (more…)

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The Cobble HIll Association’s Spring 2015 General Meeting will include an update on the controversial development of the Long Island College Hospital site. The group will also review the community planning guidelines for the development, according to a notice on its website about the meeting.

“The CHA knows local residents will remain passionate and outspoken on how best to make something positive out of the terrible situation,” CHA President Paco Abraham told the Brooklyn Eagle in a story about the meeting. Locals pols are expected to attend, he added. (more…)

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Community group Save the View Now this week sued developer Toll Brothers and Brooklyn Bridge Park over the height of the Pierhouse hotel and condos, now under construction in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The group alleges the height of the buildings has illegally violated the park’s own General Project Plan. State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel issued a temporary restraining order preventing construction on a section of the development south of the Squibb Bridge, the group announced Thursday.

The details are complex, but suffice to say at issue is whether or not the three-building condo and hotel development at 60, 90 and 130 Furman Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park is blocking views of the Brooklyn Bridge in violation of any laws.

Brownstoner broke the story in September that the northernmost part of the development, 1Hotel at 60 Furman Street, has angered preservationists because it is, in fact, blocking a view of the Brooklyn Bridge a 2005 agreement between the park and another community group, the Brooklyn Heights Association, sought to protect.

But — whether or not the height of the three buildings violates any laws is another question — and one this lawsuit seeks to answer. (more…)

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Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan won’t bring affordable units to low-income areas but it will destroy the character of the most expensive neighborhoods in Brooklyn, said housing experts — including real estate execs — in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday. Here are the deets:

*In low-income areas such as East New York, no one is building market-rate housing now and no one will build market-rate housing in the future, even if the mayor succeeds with his plan to upzone the area to allow bigger and taller buildings, because the math just doesn’t pencil out.

*Meanwhile, the mayor’s plan would work beautifully in higher-income areas such as Park Slope and Williamsburg — except that Bloomberg-mandated “contextual zoning” height caps make it impossible.

Mayor de Blasio is pushing to wipe out those hard-won height caps with a “text amendment” to the building zoning code (as we mentioned in yesterday’s article about the zoning controversy in Prospect Lefferts Gardens). If he succeeds, new buildings and additions 15 to 30 percent higher than what is allowed now will quickly sprout throughout Brooklyn’s most expensive and tony areas and beyond, from Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens — anywhere land is expensive and prices and rents support luxury development. (more…)

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Yesterday, we told you Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was looking into the controversy over the Pierhouse hotel, aka 1Hotel. (To recap: The building at 60 Furman Street, including bulkheads on the roof, is about 30 feet taller than a 2005 community agreement specified and is blocking part of the view of the Brooklyn Bridge that agreement sought to protect, but is NOT blocking the legally protected Brooklyn Heights Special Scenic View District.) Turns out Brooklyn Bridge Park has already responded to his letter.

A spokeswoman for the park also had this to say about our story yesterday and the allegations from community group Save The View Now:

We were happy to respond to Borough President Adams’ questions about the Pier 1 development, which complies with all scenic view protections from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and also with BBP’s General Project Plan. We’re looking forward to completing the project, which will supply critical funding to keep the park safe and well-maintained for millions of visitors for years to come.

Above, the Pierhouse hotel and condos under construction in late January. Click through to see the park’s letter to Eric Adams.

Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]

(more…)

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MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd and another woman who appeared to be a member of the group were handcuffed and removed shortly after the beginning of Community Board 9’s second land-use committee meeting about zoning in Prospect Lefferts Gardens Wednesday, DNAinfo reported. City Council Member Laurie Cumbo wrote an open letter disparaging the group’s tactics and supporting a controversial zoning study. She said in the letter that she fears gentrification and displacement of residents in the area by luxury towers and that she has not yet reached a conclusion about how the area should be rezoned or if it should be rezoned. Above, Empire Boulevard, currently zoned for commercial only.

From what we have gathered, it does not appear as if the two meetings so far have been sufficient for the committee to make a recommendation to the full board about the zoning study at the next meeting, as was the plan. Apparently some board members agree: “With little consensus among residents, some board members expressed concern about holding a vote on the letter’s contents [about the zoning study] at the next CB9 full board meeting on February 24,” said the story. “It is unclear how the board will move forward on the issue.”

Video: Police Remove Activist Leader From Crown Heights Rezoning Meeting [DNA]

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Wednesday’s Community Board 9 ULURP committee meeting — one of three planned and highly anticipated and long-awaited meetings on the topic of PLG rezoning — was disorderly and unproductive, according to bloggers and press who attended. The purpose of the meeting was a public discussion of the community board’s request to City Planning to study zoning in the area.

Long before the 23-story as-of-right tower at 626 Flatbush was even a hole in the ground (it topped out in December), residents of the area have been asking for a downzoning. But lately, the group called Movement to Protect the People, or MTOPP, has advocated no rezoning for a stretch of Empire Boulevard, above, where currently no housing is allowed. Other residents and members of the board say they would like to see housing there, as long as it’s not more than a certain number of stories, includes affordable housing, and caps are put on building heights throughout the neighborhood.

MTOPP’s leader, Alicia Boyd, says the process is corrupt and City Planning is likely to upzone most of the neighborhood if they do anything at all. MTOPP has been a thorn in the side of the board and local politicians and has drawn condemnation from some area residents for its disruptive tactics, threats of lawsuits and racially charged accusations.

Wednesday night, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo personally called out Boyd on her tactics, and the two got into a heated shouting match. “I want to say to you, personally, Alicia: What do you want to have happen here? You want to have fisticuffs right here?” Cumbo said, according to a report in DNAinfo.

We thought commenter Zach S, a self-proclaimed newcomer to the area, on local blog Q at Parkside had an interesting analysis of the situation:

MTOPP’s actions — shutting down public meetings, shouting down fellow members of the community, trying to stop a City Planning-led zoning study at all costs — are justifiable if it’s true that the city-led process can’t be trusted and that promises have been broken and can be expected to be broken again. If that’s the case, maintaining the status quo (which is bad) may be preferable to a rezoning that only accelerates the luxury units (which is even worse).

To read more, check out DNAinfo’s story, Q at Parkside’s two stories here and here, and a discussion thread on Brooklynian. Also, Truthout published a long feature on the dispute yesterday.

Racially Charged Shouting Match Heats up Crown Heights Rezoning Debate [DNA]
Notes From the ULURP Meeting [Q Parkside]
Cheap Post [Q Parkside]
CB9’s ULURP Meeting on Wednesday [Brooklynian]
“Progressive” Gentrification: One Community’s Struggle Against Affordable Housing [Truthout]

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At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Community Advisory Council of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the council passed a resolution demanding an immediate halt to all construction in the park, including Pierhouse and housing on Pier 6, until concerns about views, financing, and school overcrowding can be resolved, Curbed and Brooklyn Eagle reported.

Steven Guterman, founder of preservationist group Save the View Now, argued in his presentation that the Pierhouse request for proposal, REIS and Design Guidelines clearly require the park and Pierhouse developer Toll Brothers to preserve views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade — the same view (everything above the roadbed) that the park long ago promised the Brooklyn Heights Association it would preserve and which Pierhouse is now obscuring — the Eagle said.

Park President Regina Myer has said all along that the park has been completely open about all changes to the design and height of the Pierhouse hotel and condos as they were happening, and disclosed everything to the CAC in a series of meetings. But CAC members disputed that at the meeting. Here is the exchange from the Eagle: (more…)

Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams wants to revive the affordable housing development on a 30-acre piece of land known as the Broadway Triangle. Sandwiched between Bed Stuy, Williamsburg and Bushwick along Broadway near Flushing, the controversial development was halted by a judge’s injunction following a lawsuit by community groups arguing the plans and a rezoning of the area favored Hasidic families and discriminated against blacks and Latinos. In a written review of an unrelated project at 695 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Adams called on the de Blasio administration to resolve the legal dispute so housing can be built, Crain’s reported.

He also called on HPD to get on with the redevelopment of the Greenpoint Hospital site at 300 Skillman Avenue in East Williamsburg, which stalled in 2012 after the developer dropped out. The city planned to create about 250 affordable apartments at the site, which has been shuttered since 1982. The Broadway Triangle Community Coalition told Crain’s it has recently been talking with the city about the rezoning. The Triangle project could add another 600 affordable units, according to Crain’s.

One thing that has changed: Former State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the king of affordable housing in the area, was heavily involved in the Triangle project, but is no longer in office. The nonprofit group he created to deliver services to constituents, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizen’s Council, which still exists and continues to be a big landlord and developer in Latino-heavy Bushwick, was one of two developers in the Triangle project, along with nonprofit partner United Jewish Organizations.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that Adams is calling for development of Broadway Triangle now that Lopez is out of the picture?

Brooklyn BP Acts to Restart Two Rez Projects [Crain’s]
Broadway Triangle Coverage [Brownstoner]
Image via Urban Omnibus

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Yesterday the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli signed off on SUNY’s plan to sell Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital to developer Fortis Property Group, Brooklyn Heights Blog reported. The approval came two days after a march during which local politicians and community groups called on the attorney general and the comptroller to investigate the deal, which they said appeared to be rigged.

“What happened to the Othmer Endowment money? Was the bidding process legal and appropriate? At so many points it appeared rigged, there’s no other word for it,” Brooklyn Eagle quoted City Council Member Brad Lander as saying. “Officials have written to Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli. We’re asking the Attorney General and the Comptroller to thoroughly investigate these questions.”

Many questions about the deal remain, said the Eagle.

State Officials Approve LICH Sale to Fortis [BHB]
State AG and Comptroller Sign off on LICH Sale to Fortis [Eagle]