City Planning’s vision for a rezoned East New York
Whither East New York? As Brooklyn’s waves of gentrification lap at the neighborhood’s shores, it’s a question on a lot of people’s minds, including eager developers, city planners looking to site affordable housing there, and wary residents looking at what’s happened to nearby Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant.
It’s also the question at the center of a panel discussion at the Brooklyn Historical Society tomorrow night, called “A Biography of East New York.” The assertion behind the discussion is that the neighborhood “is where NYC’s future is going to happen,” but that it’s also a place that is “by geography, class and race a far distance from the city’s centers of power and influence.”
The lottery has just opened for hundreds of affordable units in a new housing development in East New York. The complex of buildings, known as Livonia Commons, will have studio apartments starting at $500 a month, one-bedrooms units starting at $538, two-bedrooms at $655 and up and three-bedrooms at starting at $749. The most expensive unit is a three-bedroom for $1,196.
The opening of the lottery was first reported by Brokelyn.
A few details on the income restrictions: The least expensive studio unit is available only to someone earning between $18,515 and $24,200 a year. The most expensive units could go to a family of six earning between $42,892 and $60,120 a year. A PDF of the table outlining the income requirements can be downloaded here.
The formal land-use review for the mayor’s proposed East New York rezoning could kick off soon. City Planning Commission expects to certify the rezoning application “this spring,” according to Capital New York, which technically begins March 20. During a City Hall budget meeting this week, City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod said, “I do anticipate we will be entering the formal [land use] process this spring.”
Once the ULURP process begins, it could take up to a year. The process starts with review at the community board level, then moves to the borough president, City Planning and the City Council. The mayor’s rezoning plan aims to bring 7,000 new apartments to the area by allowing housing and taller buildings along commercial and industrial corridors. Above, the 1935 Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church at the corner of Glenmore and Pennsylvania Avenue, in the proposed rezoning area.
Community Board 5 has cancelled all presentations by developers and city agencies and requested an emergency meeting with the mayor’s office and local pols as part of an effort to slow down the mayor’s plan to rezone East New York, we were intrigued to read in DNAinfo.
“We still have a lot of questions that have gone unanswered. That’s why the board reached this decision,” CB5 Chair Andre Mitchell said. The biggest mystery is the percentage of affordable units vs. market rate. About a year ago, the de Blasio administration said the ratio would be different for each neighborhood. City Planning has issued its environmental impact documents but did not specify the mix, a surprising omission so late in the process. The publication of those documents kicked off the official uniform land review process, or ULURP. The first stage is review at the community board level.
We know from our own sources that the board opposes any aspect of the rezoning that would increase rents in the area and displace current residents or businesses, but welcomes revitalization, and would like to see a balanced mix of income levels in any new housing that is built.
DNAinfo portrayed the slowdown as coming from longtime East New York City Councilman Charles Barron, whose wife Inez Barron now holds that office, because both the chair of CB5 and the head of the land use committee are longtime Barron associates.
It’s our understanding of the ULURP process that each agency gets a set time of about two months to review, and if they don’t, the process moves on without them. But can the community — or anyone — legitimately review the plan without knowing the mix of affordable vs. market units? What do you think?
Longtime residents of East New York care about the historic bank building at 91 Pennsylvania Avenue and want to save it. A group of about eight stood in the bitter cold Tuesday to protest its planned demolition, the Village Voice reported. As it happens, the protest was sparked by our story, we were surprised to read. Residents had seen the scaffolding and netting shrouding the building but assumed it was being repaired, not demolished.
We spoke last night to one of the organizers of the protest, Chris Banks, who is the director of local community group East New York United Concerned Citizens and a member of Community Board 5. He said the owner of the building has been in touch and they plan to meet, as he also told the Voice. Banks has also reached out to local Council Member Rafael Espinal and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries for help.
We hope a new use for the building can be found that will benefit both the owner and the community. Click through to the Voice story to read what the protesters said about the building.
Local non-profit Arts East New York is hosting a panel on gentrification in East New York and negative portrayals of African Americans in mainstream media this Friday, as part of a celebration of Black History Month. Panelists will include Cyril Josh Barker, a staff writer for the New York Amsterdam News, and Shaun Neblett, a playwright and the youth theater coordinator for Changing Perceptions Theater.
“Culture x Conversion comes as a response to the growing influence from city agencies and media in the sudden changing of the East New York landscape. We are asking East New York residents to be informed and active in the planning of our community to prevent displacement,” said a press release.
Panelists will discuss how urban planning, eminent domain and development are affecting East New York, and how residents are responding. And kids from AENY’s Young Artist Institute, which helps train elementary and middle school students in music, dance and theater, will perform after the panel.
There will also be free refreshments. The free event will happen from 6 to 9 pm this Friday at George Gershwin Junior High School, at 800 Van Siclen Avenue.
Demo has started at 91 Pennsyvlania Avenue, the historic bank building in East New York we told you about last week. So far, only the interior has been demolished, and as far as we could see, the outside has not been touched. But it is probably only a matter of days before demo starts on the exterior.
Scaffolding has gone up on two sides that abut the sidewalk. The windows are out and the building appears to now be an empty shell. The building, designed by one of New York City’s most important architects, Richard Upjohn, Jr., has stood on a prominent corner in East New York since 1889. It is being torn down to make way for a seven-story medical office building.
The area is the focus of the Mayor’s affordable housing plan and will be rezoned for residential and taller buildings in the spring, which officially begins March 20, 31 days from now.
We’re sorry to report that the former East New York Savings Bank at 91 Pennsyvlania Avenue will be demolished to make way for a seven-story medical building. A demolition permit for the four-story Renaissance Revival building was issued in December.
One of New York City’s most important architects, Richard Upjohn, Jr., designed the bank, which was built in 1889 and occupies a full block on Atlantic between Pennsyvlania and New Jersey avenues, smack in the middle of the soon-to-be-rezoned East New York business district. The property was a Building of the Day last year.
An application for a new-building permit filed last week calls for a seven-story building with 121,000 square feet of space, as well as 153 parking spots. It will house “ambulatory diagnostic or treatment health care facilities,” according to schedule A filings. Udo Maron of Array Architects is the architect of record.
The 34,000-square-foot structure last changed hands for $5,500,000 in 2005, according to public records. Jonas Rudofsky of real estate firm Squarefeet.com appears to be the owner and developer, according to permits.
With so much empty and underutilized land available in East New York, we think it’s a shame the developer chose this particular location. This building looks ideal for adaptive reuse, such as a mixed-use condo development. We haven’t seen a rendering yet but we’re not hopeful it will be better than the building there now.
The mayor’s pastel-colored vision to develop East New York, above, with thousands of new units of mixed-income housing could backfire, making the area and others like it less affordable, said neighborhood residents and housing advocates quoted in a New York Times story: “Around New York, people who have watched luxury buildings and wealthy newcomers remake their streets are balking at the growth Mr. de Blasio envisions, saying the influx of market-rate apartments called for in the city’s plans could gut neighborhoods, not preserve them.”
The mayor’s affordable housing plan was the centerpiece of his State of the City speech yesterday, but it was light on specifics.
The Wall Street Journal and the Post also ran stories critical of the mayor’s plan. Some key points: Rents are unlikely to be low enough for the truly poor, union labor will increase costs, and locals will resist tall towers, said the Journal. An opinion piece in the Post called the plan “far fetched” and impractical. Residents fear an influx of higher-income newcomers, but “stagnation, not gentrification, is the more likely result,” according to the Post, because returns in low-income areas won’t be enough to offset the cost of the subsidized units. (more…)
This two-family wood frame with a porch at 849 Belmont Avenue in East New York is one of the cuter houses for sale right now we haven’t already written about, and you can’t beat the price. It appears to be in move-in condition, with all new mechanicals. And even though it’s recently renovated and has new floors, it still has some nice plaster details. We like it.
As for the location, we’re not overly familiar with East New York, but we have visited Pitkin Avenue a couple of times. This is a block away, and there is an Associated grocery store close by.
The new housing generated by the de Blasio’s rezoning of East New York will be mostly subsidized, according to new details revealed by the administration Saturday. Other than that, the plan follows the same pattern carved out by Amanda Burden and the Bloomberg administration, as New York YIMBY pointed out: Upzone the avenues, downzone the residential side streets.
That means an upzone for Atlantic Avenue from Sheffield Avenue to Euclid Avenue, with buildings as high as 12 stories. It looks less sweeping than we were expecting, a much smaller area. Surprisingly, a wedge of Ocean Hill is also included.
The area, nestled around Atlantic between Broadway, Eastern Parkway and New York Avenue, will be upzoned and downzoned on a block-by-block basis, with affordable housing up to 12 stories going in along Broadway but downzoning planned for several blocks of low-density, 19th century houses between Herkimer and Atlantic. Interestingly, no rezoning for the manufacturing areas is planned, according to YIMBY.
Name: New Lots Community Church, originally New Lots Reformed Church Address: 630 New Lots Avenue Cross Streets: Corner Schenck Avenue Neighborhood: East New York Year Built: 1824 Architectural Style: Federal, with early Gothic Revival details Architect: Unknown Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1966)
The story: In addition to homes and taverns, the most important building in our early Brooklyn communities was a church. Churches functioned not only as places of worship, but as town meeting halls and places of refuge during disaster or trouble. The Dutch Reformed Church was the most prolific church in Brooklyn in the early days, but a strong and hard-won freedom of religion led to the building of churches and temples in other denominations and faiths. Almost all of these early buildings were wood framed structures, some small, but others capable of holding a sizable congregation. You can count on both hands the number of these wood framed churches that have survived to this day. (more…)