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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]

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Never mind last week’s LICH shocker. Health care provider NYU is back on board, and it looks like the sale of Long Island College Hospital to Fortis will go forward after all, because a judge dismissed a nurses’ lawsuit yesterday. If we understand the legal technicalities correctly, the judge said NYU has no obligation to honor Fortis’ promises to rehire LICH nurses at the site.

Could pressure from the state have changed the judge’s mind or is this reasonable?

NYU Returns to LICH Deal After Judge Dismisses Nurses’ Union Lawsuit [DNA]
Judge Dismisses Nurses Suit, Clears Path for NYU at LICH [Capital NY]

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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.

CB9: Chaos and Cacophony Leave Empire Boulevard Vulnerable and Fate Uncertain [BK Brief]
If You Want To Know How Things Got Outa Hand…[Q at Parkside]
Wow. That Was Weird [Q at Parkside]
Correct That. The Motion Didn’t Pass [Q at Parkside]
Alicia Boyd: Proud Townhome Owner, Anti-Gentrification Activist [Q at Parkside]
Vote to Rescind Crown Heights Rezoning Study Sparks Confusion [DNA]
Residents Rip Proposed “Upzoning” on PLG-Crown Heights Border [NY Daily News]
Prospect Lefferts Gardens Residents Fight Rezoning on Empire Boulevard [Brownstoner]
Photo by DNAinfo

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SUNY officials worked through the weekend to try to find another health care operator to replace NYU, which pulled out, and salvage its sale of Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital to Fortis. But the search is not going well, according to a story in Capital NY.

“Expectations are low,” an unnamed state official told the publication. “To have anyone come in and offer what NYU was proposing seems almost impossible.” The “never ending” litigation around the deal is a turnoff.

Initial reports of NYU withdrawing from the sale said it was because of lawsuits. But Capital NY said the reason was because NYU believed the Brooklyn judge overseeing the legal cases was asking NYU to provide more beds and services than they had proposed, according to three sources cited by the paper. (more…)

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In August, the affordable housing provider (L+M Development Partners) withdrew from the Fortis deal to buy Long Island College Hospital from SUNY. Now the health care provider, NYU, is doing the same thing. The development “appears to leave the Fortis Property Group’s proposal to buy LICH in tatters,” said The Brooklyn Eagle, which reported the news.

NYU bowed out of its role to offer emergency services and ambulatory care on the valuable Cobble Hill property because of the nurses’ lawsuit over hiring, according to a statement from NYU reprinted by the Eagle. NYU had already invested substantial time and money in getting the health services up and running, including hiring 99 employees.

Ironically, when SUNY earlier rejected two higher-ranked bidders, it had said it doubted they could deliver the health care services they promised.

NYU Withdraws From LICH Deal, Throwing Sale of Hospital Into Disarray [Eagle]