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


As Skanska and Forest City prepare to meet in court tomorrow, Atlantic Yards Report has unearthed documents that detail a long list of problems with the construction of the modular tower, B2. To make a long story short, the tower could leak.

In more detail, there have been lots of problems with the alignment of the modules, according to Skanksa. For example, one problem is the tolerances between match plates, which tie together the modules. The original drawings called for a 1/4 inch tolerance but in the field the bolt holes only allowed a tolerance of 1/16th of an inch. To correct this flaw, the holes were enlarged, but apparently they became too big (1 and 3/4 of an inch), which “created the potential” for misalignment, according to the documents. The factory in the Navy Yard was also too small to allow for efficient production.

A hearing for a preliminary injunction to reopen the factory takes place tomorrow morning in Manhattan. Click through to Atlantic Yards Report for tons more insight on the construction issues Skanska is alleging. Also, the problems with the modular construction could freeze lending for modular projects in the area, according to a story in The New York Daily News.

Skanska Warns of Possible Leaks in B2 Modular Tower [AYR]
As B2 Tower Sits Unfinished, Debate Over Modular Construction Rises [NY Daily News]


Late Friday Forest City Ratner issued yet another salvo in the war with Skanska over their jointly operated and now-shuttered modular factory. “FCRC Modular representatives tried to enter the factory today and were barred by Skanska,” said a press release we received.

So, the release goes on, yet another lawsuit has been filed — this one by FCR Modular, the Forest City half of the partnership that with Skanska Modular runs the joint venture called FC+Skanska, according to the release.

To make a long story short, it alleges breach of contract by Skanska for shutting down the factory and asks the court for an injunction to reopen the factory “immediately.” Perhaps last week’s request to take over the factory was laying the groundwork for this suit?

In any case, it occurs to us that the merits of the case — even if, say, the allegations of both parties are true and they are both at fault — Skanska for poor management and Forest City for a non-workable modular design — may not matter. The winner may well turn out to be the one who can prove breach of contract.

Photo by Curbed


The judge overseeing the case against the Hudson Companies’ development of a 23-story mixed-use building at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has lifted the temporary restraining order against construction on the site, saying the plaintiffs “have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits” of the case.

The case is still ongoing, but a lengthy written decision said the environmental review that was already conducted was adequate. Read the full text of the decision here.

Rendering by Marvel Architects


Early Friday morning, a group of opponents to the 23-story tower Hudson Companies plans for 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens spontaneously blockaded some cement trucks that had arrived to pour the building’s foundation, according to a protestor who was present and sent us these photos. The protesters prevented the cement trucks from entering the site for about an hour or more, until the police arrived. One person was arrested.

Later that morning, at a previously scheduled hearing at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the pouring of the foundation while a court case concerning an environmental review of the project is proceeding.

A rally against the project is planned for this Friday, June 6, at City Hall.

While the lawsuit is likely to be dismissed, said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer, in any case the as-of-right project will proceed even if litigation requires modifying the financing. “While some neighbors might be unhappy that a new, 23-story building is being developed next to them, there’s no reason to demonize Hudson in all their inflammatory comments,” he said. “We’re very proud of this development, which will offer new housing, new affordable housing, new retail stores for Flatbush Avenue and new community facility space for nonprofit use.”

The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) contends Hudson could put up a shorter building with the same square footage but a different foundation on the existing lot.

To see the press release issued by the Prospect Park East Network about the temporary restraining order and rally, Hudson’s full response, and more photos of the protest and the site Friday morning, click through to the jump. (more…)

Tenants at Homewood Gardens Estates in East Flatbush claim their landlord is trying to push them out in favor of white tenants willing to pay higher rents, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit alleges that landlords Yeshaya Wasserman, Shay Wasserman and Yitzchok Rambod ignored repair requests, forced evictions and offered cash buyouts, the New York Post reported. The East Flatbush residents also say the landlords consistently refuse to make repairs for black tenants, fail to cash rent checks and delay the delivery of front door keys.

“In contrast, white tenants move into renovated apartments, their rent checks are cashed, they receive monthly rent statements and they are not subject to harassment,” the suit states, according to the Post.

The lawsuit also claims black residents have seen their rents double, while white tenants have seen minimal rent increases at lease renewal time. Wasserman and his partners bought the buildings on Brooklyn Avenue and Hawthorne Street in 2009. The state’s Tenant Protect Unit has been investigating Wasserman since last fall, when it subpoenaed documents from all eight of his properties in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Landlords Pushing Black Tenants out for Whites: Suit [NY Post]
Closing Bell: State Investigates Crown Heights, Flatbush Landlord for Tenant Abuse [Brownstoner]

Image via Google Maps


Coney Island gardeners outraged over the razing of their garden to make way for the redevelopment of the landmarked Childs restaurant filed a lawsuit against the city today, according to a press release they sent us. The 16-year-old community garden on West 22nd Street was legally a park and Parks Department property, according to the statement.

A consultant for the city told The New York Post the garden was “decommissioned” as a park in 2004.

The Boardwalk Community Garden, Coney Island and the New York City Community Garden Coalition filed an Article 78 petition challenging the environmental review and approval of the outdoor amphitheater project, which was championed by former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. They plan a press conference on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall at noon today to announce the lawsuit.

Coney Islanders Want to Protect Their Garden From Marty’s Theater [Brownstoner]
Photo via Inhabitat


A settlement has been reached in the Long Island College Hospital court case, both parties announced yesterday afternoon, but the details of the settlement will not be available until this afternoon.

The battle over the future of the hospital is a familiar one in Brooklyn these days, as the rising value of land here prompts libraries, churches and, most recently, Junior’s Cheesecake to sell all or a portion of their properties to developers to make over into bigger, denser buildings of luxury residences.

So far, what is known of the LICH settlement is that SUNY (LICH’s owner) must solicit new proposals for the property. SUNY will be required to give more weight to proposals that would keep LICH a full-service hospital. SUNY will be allowed to withdraw from running the hospital in May. Bidders must meet a minimum price in line with the value of the property, estimated to be around $228,000,000 or $278,000,000, said The New York Times.

In recent days, community groups proposed a community-based co-op health care system throughout the borough. Hospital boards of directors, including at struggling Interfaith in Bed Stuy, would be replaced by new boards made up of local residents, patients and employees, DNAinfo reported. LICH advocates are also calling for a study of the health care needs of the LICH service area, The Brooklyn Eagle said.

SUNY has been accused of contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s orders to remain open and operating at the same level of service as it offered in July. Developers who put in bids are now saying the process is unfair, said the Eagle. LICH supporters and plaintiffs include the Brooklyn Heights Association, Boerum Hill Association, Cobble Hill Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Wykoff Gardens Association, Riverside Tenants Association, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Concerned Physicians of LICH and 1199 SEIU.

Mayor de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James will announce the details of the settlement this afternoon at City Hall.

A partial steel structure is up at 297 North 7th Street, where the project is the subject of a lawsuit. The building is supposed to be a nine-story school with 34,827 square feet, according to new building permits.

We’re not sure if the site has been active recently. When we went by we didn’t see any workers, but it was after hours on a weekday. After building permits were initially approved in August, days later two real estate firms sued the developer for allegedly failing to pay a commission they were due for finding a tenant for the space, private school company MetSchools, as The Real Deal reported at the time.

The developer is Harry Einhorn – yes, that same Harry Einhorn we wrote about yesterday. He was convicted of fraud in 2002 and has been in the news for raising the rent on a senior center and day care nearby as well as plans to build a huge condo development on 4th Avenue.

wood-letter-012914 edit

Last night we received a copy of this letter from Broken Angel creator Arthur Wood to developer Alex Barrett. The rather ominous letter says the foreclosure at 4-6 Downing Street isn’t final. “I am sure Madison did not tell you that,” the letter continues. “I advise you to get your money back from Madison good luck with that!” Wood concludes: “Be further advised that if you ignore this and go ahead with your renovation, you are taking the risk of the lose [sic] of this property and whatever money you put into it.”

The return address on the letter also revealed that Wood is now residing in Beacon, N.Y. (or at least is receiving mail there). We reached out to Barrett for comment but have not yet heard anything.

Update: Barrett told us he has not received the letter. Otherwise, he had no comment.

A group of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents gathered yesterday at Chester Court to explain their lawsuit against a developer who wants to construct a 23-story luxury and affordable development on the lot next door. The neighborhood activists and their lawyers are requesting a court order to require the state housing agency to conduct a more thorough environmental impact study for 626 Flatbush Avenue, because developer Hudson Companies is receiving $72 million in public funds for the project. They’re also requesting an injunction to prevent the developer from demolishing the two-story commercial building on the property or moving forward with construction.

The 80/20 development is an as-of-right project that doesn’t require a variance for the height. However, community members insist that the building will fundamentally change the character of the neighborhood, which is mostly low-rise four- and six-story buildings. The basis of their challenge is that the property is right next to two nationally recognized historic landmarks, Prospect Park and Lefferts Manor, and the state Housing Financing Agency didn’t take that into consideration in their environmental review.

Prospect Park East Network hopes they can negotiate the tower’s height down to nine stories, distributing the same units over a wider footprint, according to a petition on its website.

“Our clients are concerned that this tower will lead to tenant displacement, as landlords see new opportunities in a high rent market,” said Rachel Hannaford, senior staff attorney at Legal Services NYC. “In recent years, developments like this one have changed the character of Brooklyn neighborhoods and forced the most vulnerable out of their homes and communities.”

Those who live on Chester Court are concerned that the building will not only cast a shadow over their little block but ultimately force them to move.

“When we look at a studio apartment building in this building, it’s $1,900 or $2,000 a month,” said 2 Chester Court resident Derek Edwards. “We’re solidly in the middle class — my wife works as a nurse in a hospital. And we just couldn’t afford it.”

“We are disappointed that opponents of development in the neighborhood have resorted to a lawsuit against an as-of-right project that will bring over 50 affordable units to the neighborhood, as well as new retail and community facility space,” said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer. He also told Crain’s, “Nothing says happy holidays and welcome to the neighborhood like a NIMBY lawsuit in the guise of an environmental challenge.”

Group Plans to Sue Over Planned High-Rise Development in Prospect Lefferts Gardens [Brownstoner]


A group of residents and community groups said yesterday they intend to sue to stop development of a planned 23-story luxury tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The suit against New York State Housing Finance Agency and developer Hudson Companies Inc. contends that more than $72 million in public funds were approved for the development without a “proper environmental impact study as required by state law,” according to a press release sent out by the group.

“The building in Prospect Lefferts Gardens would be in the midst of a neighborhood that is otherwise largely comprised of six-story or smaller buildings, and would present serious economic and environmental issues for the historic neighborhood,” the release continued.

The group includes the Prospect Park East Network, Flatbush Development Corporation, Flatbush Tenant Coalition and Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, among others. The group plans to hold a press conference to announce its lawsuit Thursday at 11 am in Chester Court.

The development by Hudson Companies is as-of-right, which means it complies with all existing zoning regulations and does not need any special permits or variances.

Rendering via Hudson Companies