The city rejected a plan to put a two-level parking garage with a rooftop garden in the courtyard of a historic Brooklyn Heights apartment building — unless the landlord buries the garage himself.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission nixed the plan on Tuesday after 20 tenants and neighbors of the Riverside Apartments — a 118-year-old Joralemon Street housing complex built by famed philanthropist Alfred T. White — spoke against the proposed tree-topped garage, calling the project inappropriate, unsafe and unwanted.
Only Ken Fisher, an attorney for the project, and Lee Weintraub, the landscape architect who designed the garden, defended the 14-foot-tall garage.
“I feel like I just got beat up,” Fisher told The Brooklyn Paper after the lopsided meeting at the Landmarks agency office in Manhattan.
Landmarks commissioners did not vote on the project, which would put approximately 130-parking spaces behind the 157-unit Joralemon Street building, but they made it clear that they would not even consider the garage unless the developers build it entirely below ground.
“Adding a one-story structure in the courtyard is inappropriate — regardless of its use,” one Landmarks official said during the hearing. “But I could consider a proposal that would put a parking structure underground.”
Residents of the red brick buildings celebrated the rejection, but said they are concerned about the subterranean proposal.
“If he’s going to do something else like build it underground, it would destroy a dozen hundred year old trees and an original iron fence, which certainly deserve to be protected,” said Bill Ringler, chairperson of the Riverside Tenants Association.
At this point, it’s unclear if the developers will even go back to the drawing board.
“We’re going to take the commissioners’ comments into account and evaluate,” Fisher said. “If there was another way to do this that would have been less contentious, we would have proposed it in the first place.”