Two of East New York’s Historic Structures Threatened by Rezoning, City Report Reveals

The historic Empire State Dairy Building at 2480 Atlantic Avenue. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

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As city agencies and community members continue to weigh the pros and cons of the East New York rezoning plan, the New York City Department of City Planning earlier this month released the final environmental impact statement, shedding light on the proposal’s potential effects on some of the area’s most landmark-eligible structures.

City Planning voted 12 to 1 Wednesday to approve the rezoning plan. Next, the matter will come for a vote by the City Council.

While a rezoning of East New York concerns neighborhood residents who value threatened landmarks and fear their rents will rise post-development, it would allow the mayor to create thousands of new residential units and neighborhood amenities.

Released on February 12, this Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) details various consequences of implementing the plan. Overall, the FEIS found that no overwhelmingly negative impacts would result from the proposed rezoning — there would be an increase in residential, commercial, and community space without displacing existing land uses.

However, the nabe could see a temporary shortage of school seats and childcare facilities, and a few important historic structures could be affected.

At the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church at 400 Glenmore Avenue — a domed church built in 1935 in the traditional Russian Orthodox style — shadows from new, taller buildings could darken sunlight-sensitive stained glass windows for extended periods.

East New York Rezoning

The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church at 400 Glenmore Avenue. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

As well, the Empire State Dairy Building at 2840 Atlantic Avenue — a Medieval German-inspired factory building completed in 1915 — could be “demolished or substantially altered” if the structure is not soon designated as a landmark. The site has already been deemed eligible for landmarking, but it is not yet protected.

These two structures — the Empire State Dairy Building and the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church — face the greatest threat of any historic buildings in the area, but City Planning considers a number of other structures to be at risk for impact from construction.

Views of the 75th Police Precinct Station House at 484 Liberty Avenue, one of the only surviving Romanesque Revival precincts in Brooklyn, would be obstructed by construction. But the structure itself would not be touched, and the station would get a new backdrop from development.

St. Michael’s R. C. Church, Our Lady of Loreto Church and Grace Baptist Church, none of which are landmarked but all of which are deemed historic and cultural resources, will also potentially face construction-related impact if they are not soon designated, according to the report.

East New York Rezoning

The 75th Police Precinct Station House at 484 Liberty Avenue. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

In all, City Planning lists fewer than two dozen individual structures and one proposed historic district as being currently eligible for either landmarking or State and National Registers of Historic Places designation within the study area.

The demolition last year of the historic East New York Savings Bank at 91 Pennsylvania Avenue inspired locals to protect the area’s remaining historic structures.

East New York native and 29-year-old junior architect Zulmilena Then was spurred into action following Brownstoner’s coverage of the bank’s demolition and founded Preserving East New York (PENY). Now with six members, the fledgling organization is advocating historic preservation throughout the communities of East New York and Cypress Hills, with a main goal of protecting the vulnerable, landmark-worthy buildings interspersed throughout the rezoning area of the East New York Community Plan.

The rezoning plan, highly contested by officials and community members alike, will have its own fate determined by the ULURP process.

East New York Rezoning

Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

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