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Sheepshead Bay rising: Tide of development washing over nabe

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Development is anything but sheepish in Sheepshead Bay.

The once-quaint marina town is shaping up to be the borough’s next development hot-spot, real estate watchers say. A 28-story condo is going up on Voorhies Avenue, and that’s just the bellwether for a building boom that could leave the old fishing village looking more like Downtown. But one resident says if the neighborhood’s creaky infrastructure doesn’t get updated pronto, all construction should be called off.

“I’ve been preaching the warning of over development for over 30 years,” said Steven Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group, whose family has lived and worked in the area for more than a century. “And now after Sandy, we should have stopped development. Our infrastructure can’t handle it. It’s a disaster, it’s shameful.”

Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) has called on new developers to build water holding tanks to stem sewer backups when heavy rains slam the seaside nabe.

And don’t expect the boom to slow any time soon, one real estate pro said.

“There’s a lot of development in Sheepshead Bay,” said Nancy Pecoraro, a broker with Fillmore Real Estate. “Definitely more in recent years — tearing down old buildings. It’s definitely more of a city feel with all of the condominiums going up. And definitely a big change to the waterfront — Sheepshead Bay itself — and Brighton Beach.”

Developers submitted plans for 18 new offices or multi-family apartment buildings since March 7, 2015, according to city records. They applied for 17 such permits last year and just 13 in the same period the year before that.

Recent interest appears to center on the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station, Kings Highway, and Ocean Avenue between Avenues S and U.

There are four new buildings — all six stories or higher — in the pipeline within a five-minute walk from the neighborhood’s eponymous subway stop. One of them includes the massive 300-foot, 236-unit apartment complex under construction at 1501 Voorhies Ave.

Kings Highway is another development hot-spot with nine new applications on file for buildings six stories or more.

And the city has already approved four residential buildings six stories or more along Ocean Avenue between Avenues S and U, records show.

One of the first buildings to top out will likely be the seven-story, 58-unit apartment rising from the rubble of El Greco Diner, said Aliaksandr Svetlakou of real-estate megalith Cushman and Wakefield.

The new Voorhies Avenue development will tower 120 feet over the Saint Marks Roman Catholic Church’s 16-story steeple — the neighborhood’s current tallest point.

The 28-stories building is unique to the area — city zoning law limits structure size based on the building’s lot, but developers on Voorhies Avenue combined several lots to allow for a taller building without needing a rezoning, city records show.

It will be the area’s largest for the foreseeable future, Svetlakou said.

“A lot of development is happening as we speak, but nothing of that caliber,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019: Updated to reflect correct height of the St. Marks steeple.
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