Neighbors of a nine-story building under construction in Bensonhurst are furious that the project’s developer wants to cut in half the amount of off-street parking spaces he’s required to provide, claiming that the shortage of spots will wreak havoc on an already parking-starved neighborhood.
Mark Caller, the developer of the Calko Medical Center, a medical services building going up on Bay Parkway between 60th and 61st streets whose largest tenant is Mamonidies Medical Center, has asked the city to let him reduce the number of parking spaces in the building from 206 to 120 — which residents claim would force teachers and parents to circle the block looking for parking spots after the center opens.
“We drive around for 20 to 30 minutes looking for spots as it is,” said Anna Cali, who was among the roughly 100 protesters picketing outside of the construction site last Thursday. “If you are not even going to supply enough spots to supply the workers, you’re going to destroy the neighborhood.”
Present plans for the facility allow parking for patients and employees on the second and third floors, which more than makes up for the spaces the building will take away, including two to make way for curb cuts and several other at what will become No Parking zone along Bay Parkway.
But with fewer parking spots indoors, opponents say developers are putting profit ahead of the people.
“If you put in 200 spots, it requires another floor of use that could be rented — [their plans come] at the expense of the neighborhood,” said Msgr. David Cassato of the nearby Saint Athanasius Church. There are also three schools within two blocks of the building.
Neither Caller nor Robert Kodsi, the hospital’s head doctor, responded to calls requesting comment.
A spokeswoman for Maimonides Medical Center, which has agreed to lease two floors for pathology and orthopedics departments, confirmed the hospital is “a limited partner” in the development, but did not respond to requests for comment on the parking situation.
Caller claims that the parking isn’t as bad as neighbors think.
According to a parking study commissioned by the developers, many of the employees and patients will take public transportation or get rides from family members to get there. At 11 am on a weekday — the peak parking time — 125 people would need parking spaces, the study said, leaving only five drivers searching for parking in the streets.
According to the study, there are 893 spaces in the immediate area — 605 of which were occupied at the time the engineering firm visited the area last October.
Caller initially tried to develop the building— which is zoned for residential use, but has a commercial overlay allows for buildings that provide a public service — into a mixed-used building with residential units above retail on the ground floor, but plans stalled after the housing market crashed in 2007, according to the website Real Estate Weekly.