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.”
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).
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?
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.
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?
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.
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…)
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.
In a major turn of events for the Gowanus area, Lightstone has agreed to spend $20,000,000 helping to clean up its corner of polluted Gowanus, the EPA announced yesterday. Since the developer broke ground on its controversial 700-unit apartment complex at 363-365 Bond Street, neighbors have complained of “petroleum waste” fumes that reportedly cause “light-headededness, nausea and dizziness,” according to the blog Gowanus Your Face Off.
Part of the remediation includes the removal of 17,500 cubic yards of polluted soil, DNAinfo was the first to report. Crews have already been replacing contaminated soil with fresh soil and gravel at 365 Bond Street, above, but whenever they stir up the existing soil, fumes are released, according to Gowanus Your Face Off.
The construction site was once home to dry cleaners, oil terminals, warehouses and factories, which spewed suspected carcinogens such as heavy metals and PCBs into the soil. Another part of the agreement is that Lightstone will work with the EPA on a sewage and stormwater plan so future flooding will not release contaminants.
Lightstone agreed to the cleanup in exchange for the EPA promising not to sue the company in the future for any additional cleanup work — or impact from the development on the canal (or vice versa), the EPA press release said. So if the development, perhaps combined with another flood, somehow spreads around more toxic waste, Lightstone won’t be liable.
Do you think that’s fair? Public comment on the agreement will be taken until October 8.
The affordable-housing developer, L+M Partners, who was part of the Long Island College Hospital deal with the third buyer, Fortis, has dropped out, leaving doubt as to whether the development will include any affordable housing after all, The Wall Street Journal reported. If not, it puts the LICH plan right back where it started: When Fortis, LICH’s preferred buyer, initially bid on the property, it planned only market-rate housing.
The Journal article hinted that affordable housing could be included only if the developer were allowed to build tall towers on the site, something the first buyer, Brooklyn Health Partners, also said it might do — and not long thereafter, that deal was scuttled. The hospital is in the midst of a landmarked area in Cobble Hill where towers are not allowed.
In an unexpected move, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. Regina Myer announced at yesterday’s board meeting the firm plans to hire consultants to perform further environmental review to determine whether an additional Environmental Impact Statement is needed for the controversial housing on Pier 6. If the park goes forward with a new EIS, it could take the teeth out of a neighborhood group’s lawsuit, which is trying to block the development by demanding a new environmental review to replace one from 2005. (more…)