Councilmembers unanimously approve shrunken 80 Flatbush project

Councilmembers unanimously approve shrunken 80 Flatbush project
Alloy Development / Luxigon

Councilmembers on Thursday unanimously voted to approve the rezoning application a developer filed in order to erect its controversial five-building 80 Flatbush complex at the edge of Boerum Hill, hours after the builder reduced the size of its massive project in order to win the local pol’s key vote.

Alloy Development agreed to cut the floor-area ratio of the complex — which contains nearly 900 apartments, roughly 200 of which are so-called affordable, two new schools, and cultural and commercial space — that it wants to erect on land bounded by Flatbush and Third avenues and State and Schermerhorn streets, where the current “far” is 6.5, from 18 to 15.75, according to Councilman Stephen Levin, who said the shrinkage will result in a development that can retain its public benefits and is more appropriate for a lot he previously stressed must be transitional between Boerum Hill’s Brownstones and Downtown’s skyscrapers.

“It gets the community benefit, while also being responsive to concerns about density and height,” Levin told the Brooklyn Paper minutes before the vote took place during Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meeting, despite earlier this week saying he’d “find it difficult” to approve the complex with a far above 15.

The reduction will not affect the size of the new 350-seat elementary school, according to Levin, or the newly built 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 along with two other on-site structures as part of Alloy’s scheme, which also calls for constructing two new towers.

The taller tower containing the affordable housing will shrink from 986 to 840 feet — but will still rise above the borough’s current tallest building, Schermerhorn Street’s 610-foot Hub, and the 720-foot Brooklyn Point tower in the works Downtown, while falling more than a hundred feet below the planned 1,066-foot structure that will rise from inside DeKalb Avenue’s landmarked Dime Savings Bank nearby. And the smaller high-rise will fall from 561 to 510 feet — topping out just below its landmarked neighbor, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower.

Councilman Stephen Levin, at mic.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The complex’s number of below-market-rate units will not change, but in order to scale down the development, the builders agreed to nix 30 market-rate units, reducing the total number of apartments from 900 to 870, according to a rep for the developer. Some of 80 Flatbush’s commerical space will also be reduced, according to Alloy spokesman James Yolles, who said the exact amount has yet to be determined.

Construction of the shorter high-rise, and the schools, is expected to wrap in 2022, with the taller tower scheduled for completion in 2025.

Alloy bigwigs also redesigned the shape of the bigger building by placing its denser floors at the bottom and slimming floors out as they rise, in an attempt to reduce the shadows it will cast over the neighborhood and the nearby Brooklyn Bears’ Rockwell Garden, whose green thumbs feared the sky-scraper would block too much sunlight from their growing patch, according to Levin.

“A lot of density at the top of the tower shifted, so that will have an significant impact on light and air issues, and overall density issues,” he said.

Other wins for the community negotiated during closed-door discussions that continued right up until the vote included Alloy nixing all State Street loading docks from the complex, doling out $250,000 for improvements to the nearby community garden, and creating a 30-foot setback on State Street to better blend the complex with its neighboring Brownstones, Levin said.

Before: The complex's taller tower soared above its surrounding neighbors, and featured a top nearly as wide as its bottom.
Alloy Development/Luxigon

“No loading docks on State Street, so no beeping trucks at two in the morning,” said the pol, who praised the developer for making changes that resulted in a project all involved agreed on.

Following the committee’s vote, the revised scheme snaking its way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure is all but certain to get the zoning change it needs, as its final hurdles are a full Council vote — which is more a formality with the committee’s approval — and a green light from Mayor DeBlasio, whose administration supported the development before its builders downsized it.

The modified project is the result of dozens of meetings with local stakeholders after the towers were formally announced in 2017 — roughly seven months after this newspaper first reported that Alloy was planning a mystery project in the neighborhood — that created an even-better development for the community, Alloy’s chief executive said following the vote.

“We’re proud that 80 Flatbush will deliver so many critically needed public benefits and help address the housing crisis,” said Jared Della Valle.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
After: New renderings show the taller tower thin out as it rises, and top off far below its originally proposed height.
Alloy Development / Luxigon