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After years of drama and controversy, the rent-regulated apartments at 406 Albee Square downtown stand empty, ready for the bulldozers. They were acquired by the city as part of a bigger package for $40,000,000 and will be turned into a park, as per the downtown rezoning plan established over a decade ago, in 2004.

The tenements, which have seen more than 100 years of humanity pass through its doors, occupy a clearing in the middle of high-rise development downtown. Directly across the street is the City Point mega-project, where towers as high as 60 stories will eventually be built. Behind it, on the next block over, the 35-story Ava DoBro is under construction at 100 Willoughby Street. (more…)

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After more than a year of controversy and drama, the full board of Community Board 9 voted yes on asking City Planning to conduct a study of zoning in the area, which covers Prospect Lefferts Gardens as well as some blocks in the southern part of Crown Heights and a bit of East Flatbush.

The supporters of the study want City Planning to downzone the area so tall towers such as 626 Flatbush, pictured under construction above, are not allowed, while also allowing for the construction of mixed-income subsidized housing of a modest height in some areas. The neighborhood has been roiled by rising rents and a building boom, as we have detailed in countless stories. (more…)

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After fervent opposition, the city has dialed back a plan to change zoning codes to allow for higher buildings in neighborhoods across the city.

In a letter dated May 15, Carl Weisbrod, chair of the NYC Planning Commission, said the city was backing off by 10 feet on proposed height increases it sought as part of the mayor’s citywide “Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan.” (more…)

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The formal land-use review process for the mayor’s proposed rezoning of East New York will kick off in September, a spokesman for the mayor told us. The City will “certify the proposal” September 8, which officially starts the process.

The City had previously said it would start the official process in “the spring,” meaning now, not the fall. The local community board and elected officials had requested more time to review the proposal. (more…)

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In a major about-face, Community Board 8 wants to rezone an industrial area in northern Crown Heights to allow residential buildings. It would allow taller buildings and require subsidies for the housing, to make it affordable to those earning the median in the area.

The board voted yes Thursday to send a request to City Planning to study the area for a rezoning, DNAinfo reported. Readers may recall that a similar request from neighboring Community Board 9 has been bogged down in controversy for more than a year.

This is a major change of direction for the board, which a few years ago rejected an attempt by a group of artists to create artist-owned live-work housing in a building in the area. The board wanted to keep the area industrial to limit gentrification in the area. (more…)

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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 zoning code (as we mentioned in yesterday’s article about the zoning controversy in Prospect Lefferts Gardens). If he succeeds, new buildings and additions 15 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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Industry City’s $1 billion plan to rezone and remake the Sunset Park waterfront area into a thriving destination for retail, Brooklyn “makers” and hotels is already encountering deep and powerful opposition. The community board, local elected officials from City Council to the U.S. House of Representatives, and community groups say they want heavy industry with its high-paying jobs, according to stories in Crain’s and The Wall Street Journal. (And just to be clear, no one is asking for housing.) Community group Uprose is planning a rally Sunday.

In Sunset Park, Doubts About Development Plan [WSJ]
Two Pols May Block $1 Billion Hipster Industrial Complex [Crain’s]
Industry City Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering from Industry City via Crain’s

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The letter has been drafted. After about a year of chaos and protests, a subcommittee of Community Board 9 voted Monday to send a letter to City Planning requesting a zoning study of Prospect Lefferts Gardens. (That’s Nostrand Avenue, above.) The letter will move to the full board on Tuesday, March 24, for a yay or nay vote. The move came after CB9 chair Dwayne Nicholson resigned last week, and we wouldn’t be surprised if his stepping down somehow paved the way for this to happen.

Community member and MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd and a handful of MTOPP members attended and spent the evening protesting that the entire meeting could not take place because the CB had no chair, DNAinfo reported. They were removed from the meeting by police.

We feel it’s not our place to say what residents of PLG should do regarding zoning, but we have been concerned about whether there has been an opportunity for adequate public input. At the one meeting we were able to attend and others we have read about, no public comment was permitted. A board member we spoke to assures us there was a chance for comment, at one of the subcommittee meetings, although the discussion was mostly about the letter.

“Yes, the Committee meeting gave everyone in the room time to comment. It was a fairly wide-ranging conversation, though totally dominated by screaming and finger-pointing. A few people actually got to comment on the general merits!” the member told us.

Please click through to the jump to read the draft letter. Local blog Q at Parkside also has more detail about what’s in it here and here. What do you think of it?

Community Board 9 Coverage [Brownstoner]

(more…)

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Developer Rabsky’s push to rezone two blocks in the Broadway Triangle area could have some very interesting unintended consequences, according to an article in Crain’s yesterday. Development there has been all but frozen for years, thanks to clashes between various stakeholders, controversy and lawsuits. Rabsky’s request will reopen that debate and, although Rabsky is only asking for 12-story buildings, could pave the way for the entire area to be covered in massive low-income towers, according to Crain’s.

(more…)

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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.

Timing of City’s Rezonings Still up in the Air [Capital NY via TRD]
East New York Rezoning Coverage [Brownstoner]

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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?

Charles Barron’s Associates Lead Push to Slow Down East New York Rezoning [DNA]
Map by City Planning