We last covered the Crow Hill landmarking effort in 2008, and they have not given up the fight. The Crow Hill Community Association will meet Tuesday, April 16, to discuss both its proposal to landmark Crow Hill and the City Planning Department’s Crown Heights rezoning proposal. Volunteers are needed to get the word out in advance of the meeting by posting signs on corners and handing out flyers. Please contact outreach at gmail dot com if you can spare 30 minutes and want to help. The meeting will take place at 7 pm in the St. Teresa Church basement at 563 Sterling Place, near Classon Avenue.
The City Planning Commission yesterday said it is moving ahead with the process to contextually rezone a portion of western Crown Heights, at the request of Community Board Eight. (Take note, those of you obsessed with new neighborhood names: DCP is officially calling this Crown Heights West.) The proposed rezoning will encompass 55 blocks with the aim of preserving their historic character, promoting affordable housing, and improving retail in the area. The clock on the public review process started yesterday. If implemented, the zoning will establish limits for building height and commercial areas; it will also offer incentives for affordable housing development along Franklin and Bedford avenues. ”The rezoning of western Crown Heights builds on our commitment to protecting the character of Brooklyn’s distinctive residential neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Amanda Burden in a prepared statement. “This comprehensive rezoning proposal, developed in close consultation with the community and elected officials, will reinforce the neighborhood’s historic brownstone and row house blocks. It will also ensure new development is appropriately scaled along the area’s transit rich corridors and provides opportunities for affordable housing in select locations.” Community Board Eight has 60 days to review the proposal. Then it goes on to other City agencies. A map of the proposed rezoning is on the jump below, or you can view it on the City Planning website.
Crown Heights Rezoning Overview [NYC City Planning]
Yesterday Pardon Me For Asking reported that the Lightstone Group will build “as of right” at 363-365 Bond Street, its huge Gowanus property, meaning the firm will comply with existing zoning. Previously, the development group planned to request what it said were “minor” modifications to the Toll Brothers’ plan, which went through an entire ULURP, or land review process. Many local residents thought the new development should go through a ULURP process of its own. Above is the new rendering, from Council Member Brad Lander’s office. Lightstone will build within the existing zoning boundaries, although it’s unclear how dramatically they’ve altered the plans and if the development will still hold 700 rental units. They will also move the development slightly away from the waterfront and increase the grade at First Street, due to new waterfront development rules and concerns after Hurricane Sandy. (After Sandy flooded the development site, Brad Lander asked the developers to withdraw their plans.) Today the developers had a date with the Department of City Planning to present the new plans. Presumably that will clear up some lingering questions, and it’ll be interesting to see if these changes are more warmly received by the community.
Important Update Regarding Lightstone’s Proposed Gowanus Project [PMFA]
There is more than meets the eye to this sales listing for a three-story, two-family brick house at 149 Bergen Street in Boerum Hill. An extension — nearly 21 feet deep – that broker and owner Pietro Costa proposed adding a few years ago was highly controversial and spawned a story in the New York Times. The Boerum Hill Association initiated a study by local architects who proposed altering zoning or landmarking rules to prevent intrusions into the “green donut,” as the yard space behind the houses came to be called. Ultimately, nothing came of it, and the owner built his extension. The listing looks nice; there’s no sign of a floor plan or, as far as we can tell, the infamous extension. But the 4,220-square-foot house exceeds its FAR by 219 square feet, according to PropertyShark. The ask is $4,567,000.
Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark
The group that wants to convert the warehouse at 964 Dean Street to work-live turns out to be a group of artists currently using the space for studios. After they postponed their hearing before Community Board Eight in January, the group made their presentation Thursday, Curbed reported. Reaction to the proposal was mixed: Two board members were concerned a variance would pave the way for more high-end conversion later, a la Williamsburg. Others would like to see this and other projects include affordable housing.
Artists Want Crown Heights Warehouse as Live-Work Space [Curbed]
CB8 to Hear Conversion Request for 964 Dean Street [Brownstoner]
Curbed is reporting that a group of elected officials, led by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, want to change the zoning at Long Island College Hospital to prevent buildings higher than 50 feet, in case SUNY Downstate does sell. This will prevent high-rise developments “too out of character with the neighborhood,” said Curbed.
Photo by University Hospital of Brooklyn via DNAinfo
Last night, the public review process for the Two Trees development located in the BAM Cultural District kicked off at the Community Board Two meeting. Two Trees Director of Special Projects Dave Lombino presented the project. It will include a 30-story rental building with 20 percent affordable units, 225 on-site parking spaces, a 10,000-square-foot public plaza, a library, cinema, rehearsal space, a restaurant and cafe, and 15,500 square feet of retail space. The Brooklyn Public Library currently on Pacific Street will close and move into this new development, and the branch will work with BAM to provide cultural initiatives. BAM will run the cinema, which will include three mid-size theaters. And the nonprofit 651 Arts will run the rehearsal spaces, where a preference will be given to Downtown Brooklyn arts groups. Architect Enrique Norten spoke about the design (the renderings presented last night are those already circling the media), and said it is still a work in progress. He spoke on the challenges of designing for the triangular site, as well as building something right in the heart of the BAM Cultural District. Ultimately, Two Trees was seeking Community Board Two’s blessing for a zoning change, so they can increase the height of the development by about 10 stories and add more residential and community facility space. Some residents of One Hanson showed up and stated that the design for South Site, as it is now known, will block the view of the historic clock tower at One Hanson. They suggested a more dramatic cut-back of the building to reveal more of the clock tower in the skyline view. Residents and community board members also expressed concern about the sign illumination (the application for public review also asked for extra illuminated signage), possible congestion caused by the building’s parking entrance on Ashland Place, and the terraces on the building, which were said to be “uncharacteristic of the neighborhood.” The land-use committee approved the design with conditions on the abatement of noise, the removal of terraces, a traffic plan, and an unobtrusive illumination plan.
Review Process Starts for BAM Cultural Build [Brownstoner]
Major Developments Planned for BAM Cultural District [Brownstoner]
Right after the city announced the massive development plans for the BAM Cultural District, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) is now in motion for the 32-story Two Trees build bounded by Lafayette Avenue, Ashland Place, Hanson Place and Flatbush Avenue. Community Board Two announced that on Wednesday, Dec. 19, the board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 6 pm at 5 Metrotech Center in Room LC 400. This kicks off a one-year process in which Two Trees will have to go through the Community Board, the Borough President and the City Planning Commission. The plan, as it stands, calls for 50,000 square feet of community space, a public plaza, 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and 300 or 400 apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable.
Major Developments Planned for BAM Cultural District [Brownstoner]
Despite the city reeling from Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times still managed to fit in a story about the turmoil surrounding the Park Slope school rezoning. There isn’t any particularly new news — the article focused on the newly controversial citywide policy that allows since-moved residents to remain at popular P.S. 321 while other parents in the neighborhood are zoned out. According to the Times, “Parents living in the zone say that the children who live elsewhere are taking up precious seats, and that families who come to the area without plans to stay long are taking advantage of the rules.” The article does make the point that many of the families who no longer live in the neighborhood had to move because they simple couldn’t afford it. And of course, the real estate issue comes up: a couple planning to sell their apartment, which is located in the new zone outside of P.S. 321, believes it may sell for $100,000 less than expected.
At an Overcrowded School in Park Slope, No One Wants to Leave [NY Times]
Here’s the Proposed Rezoning for Park Slope’s Schools [Brownstoner]
Photo by nyc school help
Last night the Department of Education and the District 15 Community Education Council presented the proposed new school zoning to Park Slope parents. The colors in the map above (click to enlarge!) show the current school zoning, and the lines show the proposed zoning. The proposed zoning accounts for a new K-5 school at the Thomas Aquinas building on Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue and the currently under-construction P.S. 133, on 4th Avenue and Butler. About 10 blocks located in the southwest corner of the P.S. 321 zone will shift into the new school district. And some southern and western chunks of the P.S. 107 zone will shift over to P.S. 10. Carrie Marlin from the DOE told the crowd that the proposed changes are for the 2013-14 school year. The rezoning will significantly alleviate the overcrowding at each school; P.S. 321 is currently at 128 percent utilization and P.S. 107 is at 158 percent utilization. This is the first rezoning for District 15, so as CEC 15 President Jim Devor said, “We must confront many of our needs in one plan, since a rezoning doesn’t happen that often.” (more…)
Community Board One approved the residential rezoning with a commercial overlay for a one-block stretch on McGuinness Avenue, reported DNAinfo. As mentioned earlier, a developer plans to build an eight-story, 180-unit apartment building on a block with a gas station and auto part stores. (The development will include 28 units of affordable housing.) The North Brooklyn Development Corporation expressed support for the rezoning, saying, as DNAinfo reported, “This is the only block in the area that doesn’t allow residential use.”
Residential Rezoning on McGuinness Approved by Community Board [DNAinfo]
Is a Residential Rezoning Coming to McGuinness Blvd? [Brownstoner]
Rendering via Greenpointers
Last week the Observer reported that the City Planning Commission voted to downzone Bed Stuy, limiting side street development to four stories and avenue development to 12 stories. The change takes place over 140 blocks of north Bed Stuy, from Flushing Ave to the north, Quincy Avenue to the south, Classon and Franklin to the West, and Broadway to the east. (Check out the full zoning map here.) The CPC also outlined an an exclusionary housing bonus, allowing developers to exceed zoning maximums if they set aside 20 percent of their projects for affordable housing. Public review for this rezoning began at the beginning of the summer.
City Planning Commission Approves Rezoning in Bed Stuy [NY Observer]
Public Review Begins for Bed Stuy North Rezoning [Brownstoner]
Last Friday Greenpointers reported back from a Community Board One land-use meeting in which a developer proposed rezoning of a block of McGuinness Boulevard from a manufacturing zone to a residential zone with a commercial overlay. As Greenpointers said, “This stretch of McGuinness between Calyer & Greenpoint is currently home to a gas station, several auto parts stores, Key Foods and Risqué Billiards. The owner/developer of 209-231 McGuinness – landlord to Risqué Billiards and Strauss Discount Auto Parts — thinks his site’s highest and best use is a new, 140-unit apartment building.” The developer wants to include affordable units in the development in order to exceed the site’s approved building density: The plan calls for 155,000 square feet, eight stories, 140 units, 90 parking spaces and 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Residents spoke both in favor and against the plan. Since this was only a hearing, the board made no decision. Even if the board approved, the developer would still have to take up the rezoning with the City Planning Commission before any construction started.
Billiards & Auto Parts to Apartments on McGuinness Blvd? [Greenpointers]
Rendering via Greenpointers
The press release just hit our inbox. A new initiative called the Business Process Reform (BluePRint) “simplifies and streamlines the City’s pre-certification process, creating predictability for applicants and allowing projects to enter ULURP, the City’s official public land use review process, more expeditiously.” Full press release on the jump…
The southern portion of Bedford Stuyvesant was rezoned back in 2007 in an effort to preserve the historic area’s low-rise character and now the city is moving ahead with similar plans for a northern portion of the neighborhood. “The proposed rezoning would protect the existing historic neighborhood character and scale on the mid-blocks, while allowing for modest growth with incentives for permanently-affordable housing and requirements for active, engaging retail along major corridors,” says the press release. As per the map above, the area in question is bounded by Lafayette Avenue and Quincy Street to the south, Classon and Franklin Avenues to the west, Broadway to the east, and Flushing Avenue to the north. “The proposed rezoning would protect the existing historic neighborhood character and scale on the mid-blocks, while allowing for modest growth with incentives for permanently-affordable housing and requirements for active, engaging retail along major corridors.” The first step in the public review is for Community Board 3 to review and vote on after which it goes to the Borough President’s office. We’ve reproduced the entire press release on the jump for area residents and zoning geeks who want to drill a little deeper into the details.
At last night’s Community Board 1 meeting, applicants from “Walton Realty Associates” presented at the public hearing to build a housing development at 59 Walton Street, just west of the Broadway Triangle. Earlier this year a judge halted the city from moving forward with the development of 1,851 housing units at the Broadway Triangle due to a plan that, as the judge stated, favored the Hasidic community over black and Latino residents. This particular development, not within the confines of the Triangle, would only be 69 units in two different buildings, with one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Fourteen of those units would be affordable. The build is eight stories high, with the top two stories set back. The developer was seeking a zoning change from M1-2 to an R6A, as well as a commercial overlay along Marcy Avenue. A CB1 board member, who worked to stop residential development of the Broadway Triangle area, stated: “This is a sneaky way for your client to build within the Triangle without acknowledging the lawsuit concerning the housing demand.” The ULURP Committee will discuss the matter further at the next meeting, Tuesday April 24th, 6:30pm at the CB1 District Office. Check out a map after the jump to see how this proposed rezoning, which covers a decent portion of the area, lines up against the Triangle. (more…)
The residential plans in store for the old Bergen Tile Co. building at 215 Flatbush Avenue, directly across from the under-construction Barclays Center, may come to fruition soon, as the developer has submitted application for two building variances. The developer submitted an application to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a variance to waive the residential off-street parking requirements for the site and a variance to waive the R6B zoning (currently in place for a portion of the site) “to facilitate the construction of a mixed-use building with retail located on the ground floor and residential dwelling units located on the 2nd through 6th floors.” The developers, PRD Realty, already said they plan to build around 50 rental units, which would require 26 parking spaces by law. This proposed build is northwest of 260 Flatbush Avenue, a proposed seven-story building. The application for #215 will be discussed later this month by Community Board Six, who will also hold a public hearing on the matter. If you’re interested, the meeting is at 6pm at the 78th Police Precint, 65 6th Avenue.
New Building Will Replace Bergen Tile Near Arena [Brownstoner] GMAP
Last night Community Board 8 discussed the possibility of rezoning the Crow Hill section of Crown Heights, particularly the area between the Prospect Heights Historic District to the west and the Crown Heights North Historic district to the east. The Department of City Planning released a proposed study area with boundaries extending east from Grand Avenue to Nostrand Avenue and south from Bergen Street to Eastern Parkway. The area is currently designated R7-1, C4-3, and R6; the rezoning would basically be a uniform, contextual downzoning. The rezoning was first requested in 2007, and community board members expressed an urge “try to do whatever we can to move it forward” now that the city is on board. A section of the neighborhood in question, however, is the sizable manufacturing zone from Bergen Street north to Atlantic Avenue, and Grand Avenue roughly to Nostrand Avenue. (Check out a map of the M-1 zone after the jump.) The DCP does not have the funds or resources to conduct an environmental study there and suggested that property owners fund the study themselves. According to board members, Council Member Tish James has pushed for rezoning this area and turning the old manufacturing buildings into affordable housing. Board members said both affordable housing and increasing public space are big priorities if the area gets rezoned. They suggested lobbying, raising money from officials, and encouraging community outreach to conduct the study of the M-1 zone with state money. For now, though, the board is still trying to figure out its vision for the entire rezoning. They plan to continue the discussion at next month’s Housing Committee meeting, which is held the first Thursday of the month, 6:30pm at 727 Classon Avenue. (more…)
Yesterday Sheepshead Bites reported on a Manhattan Beach property owner’s proposal to turn a 2,599-square-foot rectory into a 7,848-square-foot McMansion, a plan that was approved by the Community Board but which some in the neighborhood are against. The rectory, at 215 Exeter Street, was built in 1920 and sold off a couple of years ago by the church that used to own it. The new owner is seeking a zoning variance because the law only allows him to build out to 4,000 square feet in the spot. While the community board voted 26 to 5 to approve the plan, it’s opposed by the Manhattan Beach Community Group, and the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association president also spoke out the enlargement. The Manhattan Beach Community Group says the case being made for the giant house rests on incorrect data that was used to approve another super-sizing last year: “the evidence of similar sized structures (based on a Floor-Area-Ratio – or FAR – calculation) was based on faulty city data. The group cited an email a Department of City Planning official confirming that the data was inaccurate.” Meanwhile, Alan Ditchek, the president of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association said the McMansion would be out of character: “Knowing the house as it is now, a former rectory, knowing the other houses on the block, if it was enlarged it wouldn’t conform with the other houses as they appear. …The zoning is being changed, without it being changed. People are building bigger houses than are permitted without our zoning being changed.” It sounds like the proposal still needs the blessing of the Board of Standards and Appeals before it can move forward.
92-Year-Old Manhattan Beach Rectory To Become McMansion [Sheepshead Bites] GMAP
Image from Sheepshead Bites
In a piece advocating for architects and planners to start conceiving of (primarily underused) parking spaces as potential public spaces, the Times’ new architecture critic Michael Kimmelman writes that New York zoning should stop requiring developers to build a certain number of parking spaces along with new buildings:
For big cities like New York it is high time to abandon outmoded zoning codes from the auto-boom days requiring specific ratios of parking spaces per housing unit, or per square foot of retail space. These rules about minimum parking spaces have driven up the costs of apartments for developers and residents, damaged the environment, diverted money that could have gone to mass transit and created a government-mandated cityscape that’s largely unused. …Cities should let the free market handle the construction of new parking spaces. People who buy or rent new homes can pay extra if they want someplace to park a car. Municipalities can instead cap the maximum number of lots or the ratio of spaces to dwellings and offices.
Kimmelman cites a recent Crain’s article that said spaces in the mandated parking garages at new Downtown Brooklyn developments Avalon Fort Greene and 80 Dekalb Avenue are only half leased.
Paved, but Still Alive [NY Times]
Photo by gawillia2