Panel says no to another Downtown tower

Panel says no to another Downtown tower
Slate Property Group

The Manhattan-based developer seeking approval to upzone a swath of land in America’s Downtown in order to build a 40-story tower on Fulton Street — just a few blocks from where builders recently got the okay to erect two shrunken high-rises as part of the controversial 80 Flatbush mega-development — must nix its application, according to local civic leaders who blasted the scheme during a Sept. 13 Community Board 2 public hearing on the project.

“This upzoning is outrageous, and we’re always faced with this. I think we should really take a stand,” said CB2 member Carolyn Hubbard-Kamunanwire. “No developer comes and says, ‘We’re going to build something the way it should be built.’ ”

The Slate Property Group wants to erect a 558-foot mixed-use tower between Rockwell Place and Flatbush Avenue filled with 139 apartments — roughly 40 of which will be below-market-rate units — and office space specifically designed for what the developers are calling “boutique Brooklyn businesses.”

But in order for the project to break ground, the city must sign off on an upzoning to increase the plot’s allowable “floor-area ratio” — a formula used to calculate the total amount of square space a developer can build on a particular plot of land. The number, which varies by zone and use, is multiplied by the area of the property to determine how tall a building can be. Slate needs the floor-area ratio boosted from 12 to 18 to accommodate the commercial portion of the development.

Members of CB2’s Land Use Committee rejected the rezoning application 5-to-1, with one abstention. It now moves to the full board, which will cast its purely advisory vote, then to Borough President Adams, the City Planning Commission, Council, and finally Mayor DeBlasio as part of the city’s lengthy Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure.

The developers said they plan to erect a 215-foot as-of-right building filled mostly with condos if the city ultimately rejects the application, but the hope to get the green light in order to create a project that better serves the growing neighborhood, according to a bigwig at Slate Property Group.

“570 Fulton is a transformative project for Downtown Brooklyn, imagined with Brooklyn’s communities in mind,” said David Schwartz. “From office spaces for local business to affordable housing, this building puts Brooklyn first.”

But civic gurus blasted the real estate executives for trying to curry favor with community members by holding local charity events in the surrounding neighborhood leading up to the vote, most recently a back-to-school backpack give-away at Ingersoll Houses, a nearby public housing complex, just one day before the committee vote, on Sept. 12.

“They were trying to buy votes. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” said Land Use Committee member Esther Blount. “People are just that blind that a backpack would get them to sell out like that.”

But other community leaders called out board members for rejecting a project that would provide locals with even more housing options and office space, and would still sit about 280 feet below the taller of the two towers of Dumbo-based Alloy Development’s 80 Flatbush, and about 50 feet below the 610-foot Hub nearby.

“It is troubling that board members, who are supposed to represent this community, are so out of touch with the community,” said Ingersoll Houses Tenants Association president Darold Burgess in a statement. “We need affordable housing. We need space for local businesses. We need jobs. This building delivers for us, and is no bigger than other buildings right next door. What’s the problem?”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.