Prospect Lefferts Gardens residents filed a lawsuit saying Housing Finance Agency gave Hudson Companies cash without required study

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

The Brooklyn Paper
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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 or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Brooklyn Gersh from The WT, baby says:
People are ridiculous. Viewsheds are NOT protected in NYC (except by special zoning, as on the Promenade). You live in New York? The only constant of life here is CHANGE.

Watch the language of the NIMBYs. They say it's all about preserving neighborhood "character," but what they really want is to put New York City in a time-capsule. But New York City is not Amsterdam (i.e. a museum of what a city was). NYC is an ever transforming place. And people need residential units.
Dec. 20, 2013, 9:50 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon my ignorance in asking this, but don't the "trees" in Prospect Park already cast shadows? And this is just one man's observation, but I do recall seeing what appeared to be residents of the area, or perhaps residents of another area who have traveled far and wide, picnicking and generally relaxing in the existing "shaded areas" in the park. Perhaps, and please excuse me for suggesting this, a large structure may create even more relaxing shade for park goers? Have a nice day and enjoy the warm weather. This man is wearing "shorts" today.
Dec. 20, 2013, 11:17 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I hate to be the one to say this, but if they had removed the pond like they had promised, there would be plenty of sunlight for those of us who seek Vitamin D. Pardon my pointing this out.

On the other hand, Fake John Wasserman (located above) has a very good point in the other direction.

John Wasserman
Dec. 20, 2013, 1:38 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
"and that its shadows could kill plants that need direct sunlight"

Kitchen-sink approach, eh?
Dec. 20, 2013, 8:20 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Would the shadow of the building stay in one place all day long and not move as the sun does? Because that would be a cool trick, to have something that is essentially a large gnomon not project a moving shadow. If it is not able to achieve that feat, then the plants cast temporarily in shadow one part of the day would get lots of light at other times. It's a baseless objection that is meant to hide the real one, which is that certain people don't want certain other people to move into their neighborhood. As such it is rather reminiscent of certain trolls on this board who rail endlessly against people moving into their neighborhoods and having the audacity to be *gasp* different.
Dec. 21, 2013, 12:23 am
jay from nyc says:
not sure how you can protect the park when you have the idiots who run the park doing as much or more damage to it with crap like the googa mooga. Having said that I would like see about 2000 more buildings like this go up in the next three years, we need them.
Dec. 21, 2013, 2:01 pm
Charles from PS says:
I applaud these residents for standing up to protect the park and their neighborhood. And for all those above who disapprove, time to look inward and ask: why are you fighting for those richer than yourselves? It's called being a tool.
Dec. 21, 2013, 2:54 pm
Priscilla from South Slope says:
There's a funky woman bringing an angry, Urban perspective to things. This building will shade basketball courts and drug places, so important to the youth of color. They need to control the local, unlawful areas - otherwise there is a risk this neighborhood may actually become nice. Fight against this! Keep this a place for welfare criminals!
Dec. 22, 2013, 2:11 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Originally, I was going to stay out of this discussion, but the insults to the opposition brought me into it. I believe that it's more than just casting shadows, it's the fact that a developer wants to build something that is way bigger than anything in the surrounding area, which makes it feel out of place. Another can be that it would cause gentrification to long time residents that have been there for generations. I agree with what Charles had to say, and he is right. Some of the attacks made on the opposition are very similar to those that were fighting the Atlantic Yards where numerous personal attacks were made at them, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you supporting this building probably work with the developer as well if you sound pretty defensive on it. One day, someone could put something like this in your neighborhood, and I'm sure many of you wouldn't like to be shouted down as NIMBYs hence the double standard.
Dec. 22, 2013, 6:21 pm
jay from nyc says:
I would love to have this in my hood Tal, along with dozens of others just like it. You on the other hand can stay the hell out, as your ego is larger than any building on the planet, including the great wall of china and is only matched by your state of delusion.
Dec. 23, 2013, 9:25 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jay, your ego is so big that it made Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, and even Alex Rodriquez combined feel normal compared to your's.
Dec. 24, 2013, 5:23 pm
Tom from Terrifictown says:
That think looks like some Soviet housing project! U-G-L-Y! And they think people with money are gonna flock to THAT!

Good for the neighborhood for fighting back!
Dec. 27, 2013, 7:50 am

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