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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 code (as we mentioned in yesterday’s article about the zoning controversy in Prospect Lefferts Gardens). If he succeeds, new buildings and additions 20 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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After a year of drama and disruption, last night’s Community Board 9 meeting was relatively sane and productive, but the highly anticipated vote on the controversial letter to City Planning to request a zoning study of Prospect Lefferts Gardens did not happen. Here is what did happen:

*The letter was sent back to the land-use committee for a vote because the previous vote turned out to be invalid. People were voting who weren’t actually members of the committee, and the vote was taken after the meeting had already been adjourned, which is against the rules. We were expecting a presentation on the land-use committee’s recommendation, but perhaps because the matter was sent back to committee for a vote, there was none.

*Acting chair Laura Imperiale and MTOPP leader and activist Alicia Boyd agreed on something: Now there is a new threat to the existing character of the neighborhood — and all neighborhoods in Brooklyn and New York City. A “text amendment” to the building code, buried in Mayor de Blasio’s “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” plan, would effectively wipe out hard-won height limits in “contextual zoning neighborhoods,” allowing new development 20 to 30 percent higher across the board. The board has two weeks to comment.

Also, City Planning plans to meet on the topic today at 4 pm at Spector Hall at 22 Reade Street in Manhattan. A community rally is scheduled to take place before the meeting, at 3 pm at City Hall.

*MTOPP has asked the D.A. to investigate Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (more…)

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For the fourth year in a row, City Council Member Brad Lander is organizing info sessions and voting for participatory budgeting. Lander has committed $1,500,000 from the city budget to make five public works projects a reality, and residents of the 39th District will decide how the money will be spent.

There are 13 proposals on the ballot, including an art installation for the 4th Avenue-9th Street subway station (pictured above), a storytelling garden at the Park Slope Library, new technology for local arts nonprofits, an A/C for the cafeteria at P.S. 124 in Park Slope, and street greening projects in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus. (more…)

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is looking into the outcry over the height of the Pierhouse hotel, aka 1Hotel, at 60 Furman Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park. (The building, as we were the first to report, has a 30-foot bulkhead on the roof that violates a 2005 community agreement on height and is blocking part of the view of the Brooklyn Bridge that agreement sought to protect. Just to clarify, the building is not blocking the special legally protected Brooklyn Heights Scenic View.) Earlier this month he sent a letter to Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer requesting more information about some technical points related to the height of the building.

“We are pleased that after extensive review, the Borough President’s office has joined with our other local elected officials in questioning why the Pierhouse has been allowed to grow well beyond the height limits originally agreed to with the public,” Save The View Now founder Steven Guterman told us in an email. “At this time we want Mayor de Blasio to take corrective action so the iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge are restored.”

Adams and three other local elected officials have seats on the park board. So does Mayor de Blasio. In fact, he has the controlling vote with 13 seats, Guterman said.

One other interesting development: Save The View Now says that the building is actually 144 feet tall at its tallest point (including all bulkheads, etc.), not 130, and certainly not the circa-100 feet of the old Cold Storage Warehouse that used to occupy the site.

Above, 90 Furman and 60 Furman under construction in late January. (The hotel is the portion of the development closest to the bridge.) Please click through to read the letter.

We have reached out to a Brooklyn Bridge Park spokesperson for comment, and will update here when we hear back.

Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]

(more…)

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The Democratic National Convention will be in Philly. DNC organizers said they decided against Brooklyn for logistical reasons, including travel between midtown hotels and Barclays and securing the residential area around the arena, numerous outlets reported.

As soon as the decision was announced yesterday, some small business owners near the Barclays area said they were disappointed. Just a few weeks earlier a group of the same had organized to oppose the convention, saying it would mean a loss in business for them.

Are you relieved or disappointed?

Security Headaches Doomed Brooklyn Bid for Democratic Convention [NY Times]
Businesses Near Barclays Center “Disappointed” DNC Skipped Brooklyn [DNA]

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seriously considering basing her second presidential campaign here in Brooklyn, The Hill reported. The borough’s diversity will help attract young and minority voters, and Brooklyn’s transformation over the last decade could be a useful symbol for the campaign. Her team plans to formally launch her 2016 campaign in July, according to the paper.

In other Brooklyn political news, Mayor de Blasio gave his State of the City speech today, focusing once again on affordable housing. While he didn’t spend much time on Brooklyn specifically, he did mention East New York is one of the neighborhoods that will be rezoned for mandatory affordable housing, and he plans to expand ferry service to southern Brooklyn. DNAinfo reported that the new routes would include service to Red Hook, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bay Ridge and Coney Island.

Hillary Eyes Brooklyn for Campaign HQ [Politico]
Photo by Olivia Boddie

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State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is organizing a conference Thursday evening to discuss how tenants could be affected by changes in the rent regulation laws, which are due to expire this summer. The New York State Senate will decide whether to renew them on June 15. Several local politicians, including Mayor de Blasio, are pushing for the repeal of the 1971 Urstadt Law, which gives the state control over rent regulation instead of the city. Many of those politicians will appear at tomorrow’s conference, including state senators Montgomery and Hamilton, as well as City Council members Laurie Cumbo, Stephen Levin, Carlos Menchaca and Robert Cornegy Jr. State Assembly members Joe Lentol, Walter Mosley and Felix Ortiz will also attend.

The Affordable Housing Crisis will take place January 15 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at 85 South Oxford Street. RSVP by emailing or calling Senator Montgomery’s office at 718-643-6140 or ojonas@nysenate.gov.

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A slew of Brooklyn pols, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, state assembly members, and city council members gave away 1,000 turkeys to senior centers, churches, community groups and families in Sunset Park, Brownsville and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn today, according to an email we received from the office of New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton.

Photo via office of New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton

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Mayor de Blasio yesterday announced $76,800,000 in new funding for development at the Navy Yard, particularly for Building 77, numerous outlets reported. The program expands one started by the Bloomberg administration.

That brings city spending to modernize Building 77 to a total of $140,000,000. The former ammunition depot, pictured above, is the largest building at the complex with 17 stories and 960,000 square feet. Its revamp will bring 3,000 jobs to the area, the administration estimates.

The now-empty Building 77 will be ready in 2016, according to The Brooklyn Eagle. Some tenants have already been lined up, including motorcycle maker FXE Industries and Shiel Medical Laboratories. Brooklyn Grange may build a green roof for it.

Mayor Announces Major Brooklyn Navy Yard Expansion [Eagle]
Building 77 Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Janet Upadhye for DNAinfo

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Former District Leader Renee Collymore has organized an emergency town hall meeting with school principals, residents and business owners to discuss safety in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill after an incident last month when 20 or 30 “unsupervised students from local schools began a terrifying brawl outside a quiet coffee shop,” on Vanderbilt between Dekalb and Lafayette, according to a flyer we spotted in the neighborhood. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Laurie Cumbo are expected to attend.

Collymore witnessed the fight on October 9, and said police did not show up when called to break up an earlier fight on October 5, according to a story in DNAinfo. The meeting is set for Wednesday, November 19 from 6:30 to 8 pm at P.S. 20 at 225 Adelphi Street.

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Back in July, we wondered what was in store for the former Unity Democratic Club at 203 Ralph Avenue in Bed Stuy. We hadn’t seen any signs of life there in years. In July, the old sign came down and the landlord appeared to be sprucing up the place for a new tenant, or perhaps to advertise the space for lease.

Well, now we know: The building is actually the one at the center of the dispute between City Council Member Darlene Mealy and her office landlord. To recap in case you have not been following: She is months behind on her rent, and owes $7,500, according to her landlord quoted in the Post. The landlord changed the locks, and she had him arrested. He retaliated by draping three banners on the building’s fire escape proclaiming her to be a deadbeat tenant.

The banners read: “Councilwoman Darlene Mealy is a deadbeat tenant. She owes five months rent for 203 Ralph and refuses to pay. Her monthly rent is $1,250. She offered me $1,000. This is another prime example of one local elected official who has failed me, you and this community.” (more…)