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Cautionary sale: Builder’s purchase of Bklyn Hospital tower may upset locals against luxe homes on park, civic guru says - Brooklyn Paper

Cautionary sale: Builder’s purchase of Bklyn Hospital tower may upset locals against luxe homes on park, civic guru says

In the works: Brooklyn Hospital honchos are finalizing a deal to sell the medical center’s Willoughby Street tower, which overlooks Fort Greene Park and the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, to a Williamsburg-based residential-housing developer.
Photo by Taylor Balkom

What goes up may not go down easily.

Brooklyn Hospital Center honchos’ imminent deal to sell its Willoughby Street medical tower on Fort Greene Park to a residential-housing developer could stir controversy among residents who oppose bringing a swanky high-rise to the border of the public green space, according to a local civic guru.

Community Board 2’s district manager said that the likelihood of a luxury high-rise replacing the hospital’s Maynard Building may rile Fort Greeners the same way the two towers planned for Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 polarized locals in Brooklyn Heights.

“The analogy is along the lines of some of the residential development on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, where some feel that the park then becomes nothing more than a bunch of rich people’s front yards,” said Rob Perris, whose board also includes Brooklyn Heights. “I think a similar reaction may occur if a residential building is built right next to [Fort Greene Park].”

Williamsburg-based developer Rabsky Group plans to scoop up the crummy 21-story tower between Ashland Place and St. Edwards Street, and will likely raze its doctors’ offices and urgent-care facility in order to build market-rate housing on the site and an adjacent parking lot, according to Crain’s, which first reported on the $100-million deal.

But the builder may first have to apply for a rezoning through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which would then require it to include so-called affordable housing in the project, Crain’s reported.

A source familiar with the transaction confirmed that Brooklyn Hospital’s and Rabsky’s honchos drafted papers for the building’s sale, but said the deal is not yet final. The source couldn’t confirm the price tag, or whether the parking lot next to the Maynard Building is part of the agreement.

Rabsky reps didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Fort Greene medical center put the 1940s brick edifice on the market in 2016, touting a buyer’s chance to erect residences on the lot that would give future occupants an exclusive entrance to meadow. A hospital rep also said a new owner could build a tower that rises even higher than the current building, because its sale includes extra air rights from the main campus.

Cash from the sale will be used to spruce up the current campus, the rep said at the time.

Employees who work in the Maynard Building will pack up and move into six floors of a newly constructed Fulton Street office tower in Downtown following the sale, according to the broker who negotiated the deal for the space, who said it would be ready by the end of the year.

“They have to do construction, the floors are currently raw,” said Robert Hebron from Ingram and Hebron Realty.

The sale of the Brooklyn Hospital building would come months after Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve making over the corner of Fort Greene Park at Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street into a grand entrance leading to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, despite locals’ charges that many residents — including those of the nearby Ingersoll and Walt Whitman public-housing complexes — either weren’t aware of, or on board with, the change.

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

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