Sheepshead Bay still fighting zone-busting Avenue Z development

Sheepshead Bay still fighting zone-busting Avenue Z development
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

A proposed development planned for Avenue Z just can’t seem to get out of park — because of parking.

Repeated rejections of a zone-busting commercial development planned for a narrow block now occupied by former gas station LS Auto Clinic and its parking lot have led to a succession of changes to the proposal since it was first floated in 2014, and the latest version suffered another setback this week — in part because the developer insists on not eliminating all parking on the site, which locals say would wreak havoc on a neighborhood that’s already desperate for spots, said neighbor Katharine D’Ambrosi.

“We who live here know how difficult it has become for residents to find a parking spot in front of their own houses,” said D’Ambrosi, who lives across from the proposed structure on E. 22nd Street.

Developer Aleksandr Finkelshteyn — who doesn’t yet own the property between Jerome Avenue and E. 21st Street, according to city records — plans to build the two-story building incorporating commercial space and a community center, but no parking —in violation of local zoning laws — according to his application filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals, which must sign off on a variance before the project can more forward.

Finkelshteyn’s attorney Eric Palatnik, presented the latest plans to the city agency on Aug. 15, but the board again sent him back to the drawing board asking for additional materials. Palatnik has until Oct. 25 to submit the requested documents, and the next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14, according to a spokesman for the city agency.

Palatnik did not respond to calls for comment on what additional materials were required.

The plan has changed over the years since it was first pitched in 2014. It was dropped in height from four stories to just two, and a community space was added on the second floor. The latest plans don’t specify a medical facility, but Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo and other neighbors say that’s the developer’s goal.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is Finkelshteyn refusal to provide any of the 69 parking spots that zoning laws require for a development of this size.

Community Board 15 unanimously rejected the application in 2015, according to Scavo, but the board’s vote is only advisory. It’s really up to the Board of Standard and Appeals to approve the project or reject it.

The Aug. 15 rebuff by the board makes Scavo optimistic that it will ultimately listen to the community in its final ruling later this year.

“I think that the Board of Standards and Appeals is doing their job trying to protect the neighborhood,” said Scavo.

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