This “aye” saw a different way forward.
The civic gurus who voted against a rezoning proposal for a divisive megadevelopment on the edge of Boerum Hill are shortsighted, and neglected to consider the benefit of hashing out the project’s finer points with its developer when casting their ballots, said the lone Community Board 2 member who supported the scheme at the May 9 full-board meeting.
“I wanted to hopefully have an opportunity to negotiate,” said Clinton Hiller Lenny Singletary, the panel’s second vice chairman. “When you say ‘no,’ you remove all opportunity to negotiate.”
Thirty-two board members, however, overwhelmed Singletary’s solo vote of support with their “nay” votes on the upzoning request for 80 Flatbush — a five-building complex with residential, educational, cultural, and commercial spaces that builder Alloy Development wants to erect on a patch of land bounded by Flatbush and Third avenues and State and Schermerhorn streets. Two board members recused themselves from voting, and five abstained.
The project includes the construction of 38- and 74-story towers that would be triple the size of what regulations currently allow on the land, leading many locals and pols to blast it as simply too massive for its location, and requiring its developer to push it through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process before breaking ground.
And Singletary’s fellow board members’ purely advisory vote against 80 Flatbush, which followed a unanimous “nay” vote by the panel’s Land Use Committee, completely ignored the scheme’s public benefits — including a newly built 350-seat elementary school, a separate facility for high-schoolers studying inside the currently beleaguered Khalil Gibran International Academy building on Schermerhorn Street, 200 below-market-rate apartments, and the local jobs the complex will generate, he said.
“It’s an opportunity to bring jobs to Brooklyn and provide the school with other resources,” said Singletary, who moderated the first ulurp-mandated public hearing on 80 Flatbush in March. “If it was solely about a development with no other components, it would have been easy to say, ‘this is too massive.’ ”
If the city ultimately denies the upzoning, Alloy bigwigs intend to axe the so-called affordable housing and both schools, and instead work within current zoning laws to build one 400-foot high-rise containing market-rate units, according to a rep.
And Singletary said the board could have at least rejected the current 80 Flatbush proposal with some recommended moderations — like it did with a similar rezoning request leaders of a Fort Greene church recently proposed in order to erect their own planned tower — which might lead to a compromise between developers and community that still results in some public good.
“I know many of my colleagues from the board kind of take an all or nothing approach. But maybe there’s a way to have a conversation, and get some concessions,” he said.
The beep, who last month hosted his own hearing on 80 Flatbush, is expected to give his opinion on the project in the coming weeks, and the rezoning application now moves on to the City Planning Commission, then Council, before it finally lands on the desk of Mayor DeBlasio, who will ultimately decide its fate.