Development

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July 18, 2005, NY Daily News — Fearing a repeat of the West Side stadium mess in Manhattan, a coalition of advocacy groups is demanding that the MTA publicize bids for the Atlantic Ave. railyards. “We really want the MTA to get the value of the property,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. The watchdog group signed off on a letter to the MTA last week along with 35 other groups. They want the cash-strapped agency to get top dollar for the site. Developer Bruce Ratner is trying to build a $3.5 billion basketball arena and 17 soaring skyscrapers over the yards and into Prospect Heights. Rival developer Gary Barnett of Extell Development Corp. is also trying to buy the 8.4-acre parcel for housing and retail. Both bids were submitted this month – but so far the MTA hasn’t said how much the yards are worth or how much is being offered. MTA spokesman Brian Dolan declined to comment on the letter.
Update: According to the NY Observer, the MTA has sent both proposals back to the bidders for “clarification”. This means it’s unlikely the MTA board will vote at its upcoming July 27 meeting. The upshot: We won’t know anything until the following meeting at the end of September.
Open Bidding Urged for Atlantic Avenue [NY Daily News]
More “Unavoidable Delays” [The Real Estate]

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According to one of the residents actively fighting the illegal development being perpetrated at 408 15th Street, the pulling of permits by the DOB has not stopped activity at the site:

This morning we were startled by someone revving the engines of this huge excavator that is parked on the 408 15th Street site. The crew of workers arrived at the site to meet Verizon workers to begin moving the telephone poles from the lot. This after all the permits were pulled by the Dept. of Buildings back in May. Verizon reps. when confronted with the fact that they had been presented void permits, said they are not in the business of verifying whether permits are true or not. The contractors admitted that they are going to begin digging on Monday. You have to understand the law requires a 5 day notice before digging can begin. This is a hole 3 stories deep 100’x100′ wide that is surrounded by 100+ year old row houses and a church.

Shameless. If anyone has contacts at the DOB, please alert them immediately.
Too Tall in Park Slope [Brownstoner]

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Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg announced a deal to turn a parking lot in Flushing into a flashy multi-use development to include 500 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space, a multi-screen movie house, a recreation center, restaurants, a 2,000-car underground parking garage and a 200-room hotel. On cue, several neighborhood groups rose up in protest. Of particular concern: the area’s ability to absorb the increased traffic and parking demands.
Flushing Revamp Unveiled [NY Newsday]

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July 12, 2005, Village Voice — On a Saturday morning in April, neighbors on a quiet Brooklyn block on the southern edge of Park Slope looked into their backyards to see workmen erecting a construction fence on their properties. In brownstone Brooklyn this is the face of war: sneak attack by developers. One irate woman called her lawyer, who told her to call the cops, who promptly tossed the workers off the site. But it was a brief retreat. The developer quickly arrived, offering $3,000 in cash for the right to work on their properties. His goal, he said, was to start digging a big hole where a new building would rise on what had been a 100-by-100-foot parking lot on 15th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues near Prospect Park…
Too Tall in Park Slope [Village Voice]

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July 11, 2005, Brooklyn Eagle -— David and Jed Walentas’s proposed development for the Independence Community Bank site at 130 Court St. in Cobble Hill is back on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) agenda for a public hearing Tuesday, July 12. Originally scheduled for an April meeting agenda, the LPC held it over to await input from Community Board 6. As previously reported, which as previously reported, both Community Board 6 and the Cobble Hill Neighborhood Association are opposed to the project.

The bank intends to sell the property, which is in the Cobble Hill Historic District, to the Walentas’s firm, Two Trees Management Co., but retain a bank branch on the first floor. According to commission documents, the firm’s application is to demolish several additions plus a one-story separate store building in the parking lot, and construct a penthouse addition plus a new seven-story adjacent addition. The zoning is R6 for the property, which also bears the address of 195 Atlantic Ave.

Two Trees has described its addition as a contemporary brick and limestone apartment building with retail space on the ground floor. Plans also call for enlarging and converting (to residential use) the upper portion of the bank building. Within the two buildings there would be about 70 residential units. Architects at Beyer Blinder Belle in Manhattan are designing the proposed seven-story, 133,820-square foot adjacent building and the addition to the existing bank building.

In rejecting the proposal, CB 6 followed its Landmarks Subcommittee recommendation, stating that the project’s height, depth and design are inconsistent with and not contributing to the historic district. Specifically, the new addition’s 70-foot height exceeds the district’s 50-foot height limit.

Landmarks to Hear Walentas [Brooklyn Eagle]

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An article in today’s Crain’s makes the argument that the rival bid from Extell Development, while not very likely to win, may serve the purpose of forcing Bruce Ratner to whittle down the scale of his ambitious–and controversial–proposal. “The new plan really frames the choice in a compelling and challenging way,” says Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Institute Center of Community and Environmental Development in Brooklyn. “There’s something compelling about saying, `Let’s not blow the neighborhood out of scale.’ ” The article also cites the architects behind the Extell plan, a Park Slope husband-and-wife architectural team named Cetra/Reddy. Anyone know anything about them?
New Brooklyn Proposal Faces Uphill Battle [Crain’s]

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July 8, 2005, NY Daily News — Historic brownstones! Prospect Park! Brooklyn Museum! That’s how a band of Prospect Heights activists tried to attract rival developers to bid for the downtown Brooklyn site where Bruce Ratner wants to build a $3.5 billion arena and housing complex – and it worked. The group along with Develop – Don’t Destroy Brooklyn stuffed more than 100 envelopes with photos and fancy cover letters trying to court developers from Illinois to Singapore. The Manhattan-based Extell Development Co. took the bait and put in a last-minute surprise bid yesterday for the 8.4 acre stretch of railyard along Atlantic Ave. The MTA put out a request for proposals for the site in May and bids were due by Wednesday. Ratner wants to build an arena and 17 soaring skyscrapers – the tallest reaching 620 feet high – along the yards and extending into Prospect Heights. The Extell plan is a much smaller and does not involve taking private land. “We went through all the developers and read about the kind of things they worked on,” Hagan said about choosing who to target.
Continued on the Jump…

A Coney Island Dream [NY Daily News]

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Anyone know what the story is with this development on South 3rd and Berry that’s sat untouched an uninhabited for the past several months. Judging from the ironwork and choice of brick, it’s clearly a Hasidic job but we wonder if they ran into problems with the Buildings Department or something…