Developers of a 20-story tower in Coney Island drew concern from local civic gurus after revealing their plans to build ground-floor retail at an upcoming residential tower, with members fearing new stores would draw shoppers away from the neighborhood’s already struggling commercial district.
“That site is just an extension of the Brighton Beach Avenue commercial district which has plenty of vacancies,” said Coney Island resident Rose Rose at Community Board 13’s full monthly meeting on Oct. 23. “If there’s a commercial need, they can develop it at Brighton Beach Avenue.”
The nearly completed tower at 271 Sea Breeze Ave. between W. Second and W. Fifth streets is currently zoned as a residential property, but executives at Ryback Development are seeking a rezoning allowing commercial use in order to stuff the building’s ground floor with shops, according to an attorney for the developer, who claimed the plan is to rent the space to small businesses that would benefit residential tenants.
“The people we’re trying to attract are the people who live here,” said Eric Palatnik, who told board members that Ryback would withhold the storefront from chain stores.
Palatnik said that flooding regulations require the residential units to begin on the building’s second floor, meaning that the ground floor can only be parking space under the lot’s current zoning. If the building’s commercial rezoning get approved, the ground floor will become retail space with a plaza out front, developers said.
The developer’s presentation on Wednesday was purely informational, and board members won’t be asked to vote on the plan until they reconvene in November, after which the rezoning application will head to the Borough President’s Office, the City Planning Commission, and on to City Council, where Councilman Chaim Deutsch will cast the deciding vote in the matter.
While Rose was skeptical about the need for additional retail, other civic gurus were optimistic that the development would breathe new life into the area’s flagging commercial interests.
“It’s really a dead area,” said Pat Singer, the founder of the Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association.
Singer added that she admired Rybak’s condo development in Sheepshead Bay, which stands in the place of El Greco Diner on Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue.
“I’m fascinated with the Greco building. It’s very welcoming,” she said. “I think his ideas are nice.”
The residential tower, slated to open by summer of 2020, will include a gym, snazzy amenities, and 114 apartments — 30 percent of which will be offered at below-market rates, Palatnik claimed.
Developers have equipped the building with high-tech systems and materials to be super energy efficient, and hope to nab southern Brooklyn’s first LEED platinum certification from the US Green Building Council upon its completed.