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On top of Broadway! Beep wants towers along J train tracks • Brooklyn Paper

On top of Broadway! Beep wants towers along J train tracks

Bullish in Bushwick:Activist Brigette Blood says that raising the allowable height of buildings along Broadway could invite gentrification.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Borough President Adams wants to rezone nearly the entire length of Broadway so that developers can build taller, bigger buildings in exchange for providing so-called “affordable” housing.

Adams hopes to apply the zoning changes the city made to a small section of Broadway in Bedford-Stuyvesant a few years ago to the entire four-mile corridor, saying on the expected eve of Mayor DeBlasio unveiling his citywide housing plan that it would be a smart way to stack up cheap digs and uplift the neighborhoods along one of the borough’s main thoroughfares.

“The Broadway corridor is an untapped opportunity to expand Brooklyn’s affordable housing capacity and to unlock the potential of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Ocean Hill, and Williamsburg,” Adams said. “Now is the time for us to reexamine our borough’s zoning and identify opportunities for responsible development.”

The stretch of Broadway between Myrtle and Saratoga avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant allows developers to build bigger in exchange for renting one fifth of the building’s apartments at a below-market rate. The scheme allows developers to erect structures with a fifth more floor space if they include low-rent units than if they do not.

Adams wants to apply that system all the way from the Williamsburg Bridge to Broadway Junction.

The city could opt to change zoning rules piecemeal according to community board districts or the Council and DeBlasio could team up to make the change in one shot.

Some housing activists are concerned that a zoning change could stir up gentrification despite the Beep’s stated good intentions.

“Encouraging market-rate- and above-market-rate development in low-income neighborhoods brings with it many negative impacts for long-standing resident communities,” said activist Brigette Blood. “This type of rezoning proposal must hold developers accountable to their true impact.”

Neither party discussing the plan mentioned what effect the dirty, loud, dark, and constantly shaking street environment that the elevated J, M, and Z trains create along the length of Broadway would have on the feasibility of such an initiative.

Mayor DeBlasio had said he would unveil his plan to create 200,000 below-market-rate apartments in the next decade on May 1, but postponed it, apparently to finalize a new, nine-year contract for public school teachers.

He released the plan on Monday. Among its many recommendations are calls for building upwards along Atlantic Avenue in East New York, which the plan says “offers the greatest opportunity for higher-density, mixed-use development with several large opportunity sites.”

The thoroughfare that stretches from the New York Harbor to Queens drew a less rosy review from Carroll Gardens poet and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri who, in his 16-page “Personal Essay” describes it as “a wound.”

He writes:

“The fact they make people live here/on Atlantic Avenue, reveals as nothing else can/the criminality of the social order.”

Fulton Street and Pitkin Avenue in East New York also got hot-spot designation in the mayor’s plan, which does not demand a particular ratio of below-market-rate housing in all new developments, but instead calls for a case-by-case negotiation between the city and developers, which is what is done now.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Upon Broadway: Borough President Adams wants skyscrapers built along the length of the elevated J and Z tracks over Broadway.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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