Builders plan 20-story Bushwick development atop former community garden

bushwick development
A view of the lot at Broadway and Linden Street from 2019.

Developers plan to build a 20-story mixed-use tower at a vacant lot that once housed a vibrant community garden at 1333 Broadway in Bushwick, according to public filings.

Manhattan firm Ekstein Development Group filed plans with the Department of Buildings in December to erect the 205-foot building at the corner of Linden Street, housing 106 residential units, offices, and a community facility right next to the Gates Avenue station of the elevated J and Z train tracks.

The development will span the Z-shaped lot that starts at the corner of Broadway and snakes back between a block of mostly three-story brownstones and townhouses on Linden and Grove streets.

Filed drawings of the planned 20-story apartment tower at 1333 Broadway.Screenshot/Leonard Fusco

The tower will occupy the front lot with 102,333 square feet of total floor space — 72,970 square feet of residential, 21,810 square feet of commercial, and 7,553 square feet for a “community facility,” the plans show.

In the building’s cellar there will be a laundry room, bike storage, and an exercise room, according to DOB filings. The ground floor will host a retail space and a residential lobby, while the second story will include offices and the community space. All above floors will consist of apartments, and the rooftop will house a terrace, according to the plans.

The back section of the site will have an attended parking lot with car stackers and room for 114 spaces, along with an open space accessible to residents.

An above view of the plans show the tower fronting the street corner with stacked car parking and an open space in the back of the lot.Screenshot/Leonard Fusco

The plot of land for 36 years housed a local community patch known as The Secret Garden, founded by late local neighborhood matron Avellar Hansley, after whom the former green space was renamed in 2014, Bushwick Daily reported

The lawn used to be a hub for block parties, cookouts, and home to the largest vegetable patch in the neighborhood, but fell into disrepair during its later years, DNAInfo reported.

A shot from 2013 shows the old community patch known as The Secret Garden, which was razed in 2017.Google

The owner of the lot, who also runs the adjacent Known True Value Hardware Store, sold the property in 2017 for $8.75 million to luxury condo developers Heritage Real Estate Partners, and the garden was leveled that year.

The developers flipped the empty lot again in 2019 for $16.7 million to Ekstein Development Group, records show.

Since the planned Bushwick development project is as-of-right, it will not have to go through any public review, but the head of local Community Board 4 said that many neighborhood residents were dismayed that a formerly beloved open space will now become another luxe high-rise.

“This used to be a community amenity that was there for generations, seeing it being completely erased for what, a parking lot?” the board’s District Manager Celestina Leon told Brooklyn Paper. “The original blow was that the gardens were no longer there to begin with but now not even having the potential green space to commemorate [Avellar Hansley].”

The civic guru said the tall development was a result of the collapsed negotiations around the failed Bushwick rezoning.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Been in January of 2020 rejected calls to consider the alternative Bushwick Community Plan developed by local residents and politicians, which would have limited developments along Broadway to 11 stories.

A cross section of the proposed development.Screenshot/Leonard Fusco

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing czar took issue with the Community Plan for being “fundamentally a downzoning,” which she said ran counter to the city’s goals of increasing housing stock with the land use changes — but Leon said the lack of a development framework for Bushwick left residents without much recourse, other than voicing their concerns with Been and local Councilman Antonio Reynoso.

“Now we’re living with the reality that we all saw coming six or seven years ago and it’s a shame,” she said. “This has an effect on people’s lives and they need to hear about this effect.”

Developer Erik Ekstein — who did not return a request for further information by press time — also planned to build an 88-unit apartment building in 2018 on a vacant lot along Broadway two blocks away at the corner of Palmetto Street, The Real Deal reported

The listed architect is Leonard Fusco of Manhattan firm GF55 Architects.