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Lefferts Gardens anti-tower lawsuit is toast • Brooklyn Paper

Lefferts Gardens anti-tower lawsuit is toast

Held up: Work is on hold at 626 Flatbush Ave. while a judge decides whether to force developer Hudson Companies to do an environmental study.

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A judge has tossed out the lawsuit that halted construction on a 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The judge ruled that a cursory assessment of the high-rise’s impact on the Prospect-Park-side neighborhood passes muster, but community members are not having it.

“That’s very hard to believe considering this is such an unprecedented building in our neighborhood,” said Quest Fanning, a member of the Prospect Park East Network, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

It may be on the other side of Empire Boulevard, but 28-story Tivoli Towers has loomed over Crown Street at Franklin Avenue, a block from the park, since 1979.

The coalition of community members brought the suit in a last-ditch effort to stop the tower from rising, claiming that it will crowd the area, cast a nature-harming shadow over Prospect Park, and drive neighborhood rents through the roof. The project is slated to contain 254 apartments, 50 of them below market-rate.

Zoning of the property between Fenimore and Hawthorne streets allows for developer Hudson Companies’ skyscraping vision to be made concrete without special permission. But because the project is using a $72 million loan from the state, a preliminary review of the complex’s impact was conducted by the Housing Finance Authority. It found the project would not substantially affect the area — and the judge agreed.

“HFA took the requisite ‘hard look,’ ” Judge Peter Moulton wrote in his decision. “The agency carefully weighed the environmental consequences of the project and found them to be slight.”

Neighbors fear a Lefferts building boom because the area lacks height restrictions, though other neighborhoods around Brooklyn’s backyard have them.

Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Prospect Lefferts Gardens) is calling for a temporary moratorium on development in the district, spokesman David Suarez said.

Fanning hopes the community’s resistance to Hudson will send a message to other prospective builders.

“If someone wants to come to the neighborhood and build something out of scale, they’ll know we’re going to fight it,” Fanning said.

The group plans to appeal the latest ruling, he added.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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