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‘Narrow’ advocates dismiss critics

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Supporters of the Carroll Gardens zoning text amendment are dismissing concerns this week that, if enacted, the measure would still allow the construction of 13-story buildings on the neighborhood’s signature courtyard blocks.

Critics like Second Place resident Judith Thompson and others argue that, by combining properties, developers will be able to create 40-by-100-foot lots capable of supporting tall buildings no matter what the zoning text amendment says.

According to architect and Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association member John Hatheway, she is correct – sort of.

“In general, it wouldn’t make economic sense,” he told the Courier this week.

That’s because set back and open space requirements regulating construction on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th places, 2nd Street, Carroll Street and President Street would render the floor plates of 13-story buildings so small as to make them virtually unmarketable.

“There’s a reason you don’t see them,” Hatheway said. “It costs money to go high. It only pays to go high when you can build substantial size floor plates.”

Most of the lots in Carroll Gardens are 35 feet wide, but there are others that measure only 20 and 25 feet with some 18- and 16-foot lots.

The City Planning Commission held a hearing on the zoning text amendment on Wednesday. Their decision is not expected for several more weeks. Community Board 6 and Borough President Marty Markowitz support the measure.

Earlier this week, opponents of the zoning text amendment called for an “emergency” meeting at Scotto’s Funeral Home on 1st Place to press their case for altering it.

Their frustration was evident as one man reportedly declared, “I’m personal friends with Donald Trump and I will get him to come in and buy a group of lots and put up a 13-story building just to show you.”

If the City Council ultimately supports the zoning text amendment, it could impact developments like Billy Stein’s Oliver House at 360 Smith Street.

Work is proceeding at the site, but if the foundation is not in before the zoning text amendment is enacted, the developer could have a revised set of rules to deal with.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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