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Prospect Park it! Neighbors of Brooklyn’s backyard sue, say tower would cast a shadow • Brooklyn Paper

Prospect Park it! Neighbors of Brooklyn’s backyard sue, say tower would cast a shadow

Good manors: Lefferts Gardener Celeste Davis says the tower planned for Flatbush Avenue would ruin the quiet vibe of this block.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Not in Brooklyn’s backyard’s backyard!

Prospect Lefferts Gardens residents last week sued the state and the developer of a 23-story apartment complex planned for Flatbush Avenue, saying that the tower will destroy the low-rise residential neighborhood’s charming character and cast recreation-ruining shadows over Prospect Park.

“My initial interest in the project was how is my personal life going to change when a 23-story apartment goes up in my backyard,” said Celeste Davis, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. “But then I realized that it was about actually the whole backyard of the neighborhood — Prospect Park is our backyard.”

The lawsuit claims that developer Hudson Companies Inc. got more than $72-million from the state’s Housing Finance Agency without first doing a legally required environmental impact study. That is a big problem, lawyers for the petitioners say, because the building at Lincoln Road could have an unprecedented effect on the neighborhood’s look, its socioeconomic mix, and even the plant-life in Prospect Park.

“The tower is going to cast shadows over the park,” said Rachel Hannaford, one of the Legal Services lawyers representing residents.

Neighbors of the planned high-rise claim that the building would be nearly one-and-a-half times as tall as the next tallest building near the park’s edge, and that its shadows could kill plants that need direct sunlight.

Other neighborhoods surrounding the park — including Park Slope and Windsor Terrace — restrict how high developers can build, in part for this reason, they point out, while Prospect Lefferts Gardens’ zoning allows for the building to go up without special permission from the city

Letting the skyscraper rise would make Prospect Park’s long-dead designers roll in their graves, according to opponents.

“This tower would have a detrimental effect on [Calvert] Vaux and [Frederick Law] Olmsted’s vision of the park,” Hannaford said.

The litigious Lefferts Gardeners add that the 200 luxury apartments that come with the building would draw rich people in droves and prompt landlords throughout the neighborhood to raise their rents.

Hudson Companies did not immediately return a request for comment, but its website describes the project as offering unrestricted park views in apartments from the sixth floor and higher. One-fifth of apartments will be below-market-rate housing, reserved for families making no more than half the area’s median income, and the project is also set to include retail, parking, and community facilities.

Construction is scheduled for completion in early 2016, according to the website.

Lawsuits challenging developers for lacking environmental impact studies are popular tools of project foes. The companies behind Downtown’s City Point mega-development and a luxury tower town in Greenpoint are facing similar lawsuits from angry locals.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.

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