After months of suspense, then a postponed meeting due to this week’s snowstorm, now Prospect Lefferts Gardens and southern Crown Heights’s Community Board 9 has scheduled three public meetings to hash out its controversial request for a zoning study.
On Wednesday, February 4, the ULURP committee will have its first meeting in about a year to “review and discuss” the rewording of the controversial request, according to a notice on the board’s website. Then a second meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 11, to go over the specific wording of the request and vote on it, prior to presenting it to the full board. (If we read the notice correctly, the actual writing of the request will take place in private somewhere between the two meetings. This could also be controversial, though efficient.) The full board will consider the wording of the request on Tuesday, February 24.
Above, Empire Boulevard, one of the areas that might be included in a zoning study.
A House of the Day post at the height of the last bubble (2006) engendered a long discussion about price, value and, of course, safety in Prospect Lefferts Gardens — with side discussions about Paris and brie. Was a standalone woodframe house in PLG “overpriced” at $875,000? Heck — would it be now?
This three-story limestone at 28 Midwood Street is just the sort of house we would expect to fly off the shelves, but it’s been on the market since March. (See the listing on Sotheby’s site here.) There is a fancy new kitchen and baths with lots of marble and designer appliances as well as tons of original detail.
The latter includes late 19th century fireplaces with tile, parquet, columns, built in seats under windows and the stair, panelling, a beamed ceiling in the dining room, a pier mirror and plenty of wood work, both dark and painted white, throughout. (We wonder, though, if the white-painted exposed brick in the extension kitchen might make the room a little chilly?)
The house last sold for $1,290,000 in 2005, before the renovation — quite a chunk of change back then, even for a single-family house in the Manor. Do you think the asking price of $2,500,000, which has not changed since it was first listed, could be holding it back?
Big news — although not unexpected — for Prospect Lefferts Gardens and preservationists: The Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday voted to designate Chester Court. The beautifully intact teens Tudor Revival cul-de-sac was first suggested for landmarking back in the 1970s as part of the original historic district in the area.
Also yesterday Landmarks approved the revised plans for the mixed-use development that will replace a gas station at 112 Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill. The redesign is similar except the windows look more like those of surrounding buildings: Tall and narrow — but still lots of them. Yay, Landmarks.
At a highly anticipated meeting of Community Board 9 Tuesday with potential for controversy over hot-button issues such as zoning, much time was given over to presentations on flu shots and personal finance tips.
Community Board Chairman Dwayne Nicholson, pictured speaking above, admitted a controversial vote in September over zoning was miscounted, and blamed noise and disruption of the meeting by MTOPP protestors for the error. (Community group MTOPP has accused the board of incompetence or fraud.)
Nicholson seemed at pains to avoid discussing the issue further, and would not allow any public comment at the meeting. At the last minute, just as Nicholson was wrapping up, board member and Q at Parkside blogger Tim Thomas raised the subject again and attempted to vote in a revised request for a zoning study. (We published his revision last week.) But his motion was quickly quashed, to the cheers of MTOPP, which has called for public meetings on the matter.
Nicholson said there will be a zoning training workshop for board members, followed by one public meeting of the land use committee to rework the zoning study request. Both will take place before January 28, he promised. The land-use committee has not met all year, said attendees, although all committees are required to meet at least five times. The housing committee has also not met recently.
At issue is whether or not buildings over six stories will be permitted in the largely low-rise neighborhood. Community Board 9 covers Prospect Lefferts Gardens and the south side of Crown Heights. Residents and community groups have blamed high-rise luxury buildings for gentrification and rising housing costs in the area.
There was a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting for the victims of the stabbing incident Monday at 770 Eastern Parkway, the synagogue and headquarters for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Council Member Laurie Cumbo gave an impassioned speech about it, in which she also addressed the zoning controversy.
“We have to give this community board a chance. If this continues, we will not move forward effectively,” she said, referring to disruptions at community board meetings. “I want to ensure we all have a voice. But we need to be respectful of each other.”
Three members of MTOPP had signed up in advance to speak at the meeting, but were not permitted. “They don’t want to hear our voices,” shouted MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd.
A very pretty house at 118 Rutland Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has sold for $2,400,000, setting a record for the area, as BK to the Fullest was the first to report. The house is 25 feet wide and comes with a detached garage. It sits on a corner lot and has windows on three sides, two front entrances and a porch.
It is landmarked, so a developer will not be tearing down this extra-wide limestone to turn it into an apartment tower.
The house was asking $2,995,000 when it was a House of the Day in March. Corcoran, which represented the seller, has it listed on its website as selling for $2,500,000, but public records say it traded for $2,400,000. The deal closed in November.
The record is not a huge bump up from the previous one. In August, a house at 66 Midwood Street sold for $2,300,000, as we reported at the time.
Community Board 9 District Manager Pearl Miles will “address the mistaken vote count” from September at a Community Board 9 meeting Tuesday, according to an email we just received from board member and Q at Parkside blogger Tim Thomas.
He and other board members also propose to rewrite the controversial resolution calling for a zoning study that was the subject of the miscounted vote. The details of which committee would rewrite the request and in which meeting have yet to be hashed out.
Meanwhile, MTOPP members have been emailing the board asking it to “correct the vote.” MTOPP has also asked the board’s land use review committee to call a series of public meetings to revise the zoning study request.
Tim Thomas has already put together a proposed rewrite. His version would limit building height to six stories throughout the neighborhood, but leave open the door for low-rise residential on Empire Boulevard. MTOPP has in the past said it opposes housing on Empire (or any rezoning of Empire) because it is likely to lead to high rises, so we’ll be interested to hear what the group thinks of Thomas’ proposal.
Above, a view of Nostrand Avenue near Empire Boulevard, one of the areas in PLG that could potentially be affected by a rezoning. Click through to see the emails and Tim Thomas’ proposal for a new request for a zoning study.
The nine Townhouses of Cobble Hill have sold out after hitting the market over a year ago at 110-126 Congress Street, according to PR reps for developers JMH Development and Madison Estates. The Morris Adjmi-designed homes debuted in May 2013 with asking prices ranging from $3,650,000 for a three-bedroom, five-bath house to $3,875,000 for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom one.
Meanwhile, in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, the four new-construction townhouses at 274-280 Hawthorne Street (above) are all in contract less than a month after listings appeared, Q at Parkside reported. The three-story, three-unit homes hit the market in mid-November, priced from $1,495,000 to $1,695,000.
That is very fast. The Q speculated the buyers are investors who plan to rent out the three-family houses. Based on the floor plans, prices, and the patterns we see in the area and elsewhere, we would have to agree.
Despite being accused of outrageous tactics, Prospect Lefferts Gardens community group MTOPP, or The Movement to Protect the People, has been largely successful in its efforts so far. Now that the group has succeeded in rescinding Community Board 9′s request for a zoning study, as we reported last week, it is calling for a new zoning study of the area as well as a series of public meetings to come up with a new resolution to send to City Planning asking for the zoning study.
The group has always contended the resolution Community Board 9 sent to City Planning was written without adequate public input and did not reflect the wishes of the community, a charge Community Board 9 has denied.
“The resolution called for increased residential and retail density on commercial and transit corridors, putting 101 blocks of the study area (half of our district) on the table for upzoning,” MTOPP member Elizabeth Mackin told us. “Our community has repeatedly called for contextual zoning and downzoning. This was not reflected in the resolution at all.”
In fact, the resolution did call for zoning to preserve the “existing character of the neighborhood,” specifically to “prevent/limit of context i.e. high-rise development in the R7-1 zoned areas of the district.” But, as Mackin said, it also called for increased density and “contextual mixed-use developments along commercial corridors, including Empire Boulevard.” (You can read the whole thing on Community Board 9′s website.) In the past, MTOPP’s Alicia Boyd told us MTOPP opposes any rezoning of Empire Boulevard. The street, pictured above, is zoned for commercial only, so land values and development so far have not become heated as they have in other parts of the borough.
“MTOPP maintains that a large scale upzoning of our community will invite rapid development of luxury residential housing that will, in turn, cause massive direct and indirect displacement, as we have seen in Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope’s 4th Avenue,” Mackin continued.
She added, “MTOPP is also not anti-development or anti-gentrification,” which confused us — we thought they were anti-gentrification. “MTOPP is fighting to preserve the affordable rental housing in Community District 9, almost 94 percent of which is rent-stabilized or otherwise subsidized,” she said.
Meanwhile, the group is allegedly considering a lawsuit to remove current members of Community Board 9 on the grounds of fraud or incompetence concerning the miscount of the vote to rescind the resolution calling for a zoning study, according to published reports. We asked, but MTOPP did not say anything about its plans.
What are your thoughts on a downsizing of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a change of the guard for Community Board 9, and a zoning study of the neighborhood?
Update: Check out Alicia Boyd discussing the original zoning proposal in great detail in this MTOPP video here. Boyd convincingly argues in the video that the resolution as drafted could result in the upzoning of much of the neighborhood that is not already a designated historic district. She also puts forth an appealing vision of Empire Boulevard remade with sidewalk cafes, boutiques, garden stores, and parking.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on whether or not to designate Chester Court a historic district in January, according to The Brooklyn Eagle. The district was calendared in late October, meaning the LPC decided it would vote, as reported.
The teens Tudor Revival cul-de-sac is largely intact, and development is nipping at its doors, since the block is just off the busy avenue of Flatbush. The 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush is rising just behind Chester Court on one side of the block. Chester Court was proposed as part of the original Prospect Lefferts Gardens historic district, but was not included. We’re glad the LPC is taking action on this, following the transition period between administrations when it was less active.
Amazingly, a representative from the Real Estate Board of New York, not known for favoring landmarking, spoke in favor of the designation on Tuesday, said the Eagle, as did the PLG City Council member, residents and neighborhood associations. (more…)
After more than a year of preparation, the Lefferts Community Food Co-op opened Sunday at 324 Empire Boulevard in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. They have produce from Miller’s Crossing and meat from Herondale Farm, according to Brokelyn, which was the first to write about the opening. “Most of their vendors are the same ones Park Slope Food Coop uses so we expect the selection to be pretty similar once they’re fully up and running,” said Brokelyn.
A controversial and confusing vote to rescind a request for a zoning study of Prospect Lefferts Gardens did in fact pass, according to PLG community group MTOPP, or The Movement to Protect the People. The group, which has been a thorn in the side of Community Board 9, is alleging the board is “corrupt,” that it “falsified” the document, and “broke the law” on its website.
Blogger Tim Thomas of The Q at Parkside, who is on the board (and who, unlike MTOPP, favors development of Empire Boulevard) agreed with the group’s assessment that the vote passed. However, he chalked it up to a mistake.
It’s a long story but to briefly summarize: MTOPP opposes any residential development of Empire Boulevard, above, and also opposes a zoning study of the broader area. We are reaching out to Community Board 9 for comment now and will update when we hear from them. Click through to see a screenshot of MTOPP’s allegations.