City to Carroll Gardens: We’re high on low buildings

A new rendering for 360 Smith St., seen here from Second Place, represents a big change from Robert Scarano's original steel design.
Oliver Developments

New building heights would be restricted in much of Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street Waterfront District under a new city plan presented last week.

The two neighborhoods have been clamoring for more than a year for regulations to prohibit so-called “out-of-scale” tall and modern apartment buildings, such as the Oliver House on Second Place and equally tall Clarett Group building planned for Court Street, that popped up in the predominantly low-rise enclave during the last real-estate boom.

“We’ve been hearing concerns for some time from this community about out-of-context development,” said Jen Posner of the Department of City Planning. “We recognize the need to put contextual height limits in these neighborhoods.”

The plan, shown to Community Board 6’s Land use and Landmarks Committee on Thursday night, would impose a maximum building height of 50 or 70 feet on dozens of blocks in South Brooklyn. One exception was the one block long Tiffany Place, where existing taller buildings led the city to place an 80-foot limit.

In a neighborhood where activists are not shy about lambasting city policy, many members of the audience in PS 58 on Carroll Street literally applauded the City Planning officials.

The latest plan goes beyond a smaller rezoning that redefined some wide streets in Carroll Gardens into “narrow” streets to prevent new buildings from exceeding the height of existing homes.

Meanwhile, the city is also engineering a rezoning plan on many of the manufacturing blocks around the Gowanus Canal. There, the city is planning for buildings around 12 stories tall. A number of developers showed interest in building in the area until the federal government announced it might declare the putrid puddle a Superfund site.

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