B’Hill pol: 80 Flatbush must shrink by a third, lose commercial space, to get my vote

Inconspicuous construction: Builder of massive 80 Flatbush project tweaks one tower’s look to better fit nabe
Alloy Development/Luxigon

The developer asking the city to rezone a swath of land in Boerum Hill to make way for its five-building 80 Flatbush complex must reduce the size of the massive project by a third in order to gain the critical vote of the councilman whose district it would rise in, the pol told the Brooklyn Paper.

“Right now I would like to see the scale of the project be decreased,” Boerum Hill Councilman Stephen Levin said on Wednesday.

Dumbo-based Alloy Development’s proposed complex would include two newly built 986- and 560-foot towers along with three rehabilitated buildings on a swath of land bounded by Flatbush and Third avenues and State and Schermerhorn streets. Together, the structures would hold some 900 apartments, 200 of which would be below-market-rate, along with two new schools, and cultural and commercial space.

But in order to break ground, the city must green-light an upzoning that would nearly triple the plot’s allowable floor-area ratio — a zoning measurement abbreviated as “far” that determines how high a structure can be relative to the size of the land it is on — from 6.5 to 18.

And Levin, who at a Council hearing this month told Alloy reps that the lot “ought to be transitional” between Downtown’s skyscrapers and Boerum Hill’s Brownstones, is urging the developer to redesign its scheme with a maximum far of 12 — the citywide cap for buildings with so-called affordable housing — during closed-door discussions following the hearing, echoing modifications that a local civic group previously suggested to the builder.

“The Boerum Hill Association suggested decreasing to 12 far and that seems reasonable to me.” Levin said after a meeting with the developer on Monday.

The pol recommended axing the complex’s commercial space as a way to reduce its density while keeping as many of its planned public benefits — which include a new 350-seat elementary school and much-needed new classrooms for high schoolers enrolled at the Khalil Gibran International Academy, whose current crumbling building is on the 80 Flatbush lot and would be restored for reuse as part of Alloy’s original scheme.

“What I would like to see is a smaller project, potentially eliminate commercial,” Levin said. “I’ve encouraged everybody to think about prioritizing the benefits.”

The councilman also asked both city officials and Alloy bigwigs for more details on what he called the “complicated” financial agreement they brokered in order for the builder to develop the shared public-private lot, he said.

Levin previously accused the Department of Education of forcing him to make a Sophie’s Choice between the schools and the polarizing towers they would sit inside, blasting the agency for not being more proactive in bringing more desks to his overcrowded district over his eight years in office.

But last week, Mayor DeBlasio, whose administration supports the 80 Flatbush project, said it’s more important to build the complex as proposed and alleviate that overcrowding problem than bicker over what led to it.

“If something wasn’t built in the past, I don’t have a time machine. I’ve got to deal with today,” Hizzoner said during a sit-down with local media on Aug. 23.

A rep for Alloy declined to comment on whether it would act on Levin’s suggestions before Council’s vote on the rezoning, which is likely to happen on Sept. 14.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.