The wrong fit: Super-tall, super-dense towers have no place in Boerum Hill, petition says

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The buildings are too damn high!

The developer planning to build two huge towers in Boerum Hill must downsize the high-rises to get city approval, a new petition that will be presented to officials in charge of greenlighting the project demands.

“It’s one tool in terms of communicating to our elected officials how people feel about this,” said Howard Kolins, president of civic group the Boerum Hill Association, which created the petition. “The consensus from most people is the project is just too big.”

The association plans to deliver the request, which had amassed 602 signatures by press time, to Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), Borough President Adams, and Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee — all of whom have a say in the development’s lengthy approval process — before each decides whether to allow builder Alloy Development to construct 74- and 38-story high-rises on a lot bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Third Avenue, and State Street, which is on the outskirts of the brownstone-lined nabe.

The super-tall towers are not in keeping with the low-rise enclave’s aesthetic, according to the petition.

“Any plan should be a ‘contribution to the neighborhood character,’ ” it reads.

The 80 Flatbush project also includes a new 350-seat elementary school and a new building for the Khalil Gibran International School, which already sits on the lot inside a crumbling structure that will be refashioned into a cultural center as part of the scheme.

But neighbors contend that they shouldn’t have to welcome skyscrapers to get new schools, arguing the additional seats won’t even put a dent in the area’s school-capacity crisis because the residential towers will just bring more families into the neighborhood.

The petition demands the education department identify more locations for classrooms that can accommodate the growing swathe of Brooklyn’s school-age population before the development moves forward. And Kolins said people are disappointed that it seems like the city can no longer fund schools without enlisting private help.

“The community feedback was a deep sense of regret that the city seems incapable of building schools without private support,” he said.

Residents are also calling for Alloy to remove loading docks on State Street from the plan, so locals don’t have to deal with truck congestion and trash. But a rep for the developer said they need to be installed to meet city zoning rules, and that Alloy is hoping it can convince officials to reduce the project’s loading requirements.

Locals also say the skyscrapers will block their views of the nearby Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, forcing neighbors who for decades have enjoyed picturesque views of the historic tower to hit the street just to catch a glimpse of it.

“That building is an icon and it now becomes more and more walled off and invisible for our neighbors looking that way,” Kolins said. “If you want to view it, you’ll have to stand in the middle of Fourth Avenue — and you’ll still see two towers.”

The civic group’s leader met with Alloy’s head honcho last week, and the developer has hosted several meetings with community members since announcing the towers, input from which will be used to shape the project, according to Alloy’s chief.

“We absolutely take the public input seriously and feel it will make for a better project,” said Jared Della Valle. “We continue to believe this is an opportunity to grow Downtown Brooklyn responsibly and provide a lot of public benefits in an area that is transit-rich and can support more density.”

But talking with the developer doesn’t mean his civic association is giving its seal of approval, according to Kolins, just that it wants a say in how the development ultimately turns out.

The city held a meeting in June to get locals’ feedback on the project’s environmental impact study, which examines how it will affect the surrounding community, and should be releasing the results of that assessment within the next week, Kolins said.

The public will then have time to respond before Alloy presents its plans to Community Board 2, which it plans to do in December, he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

failed by uncle same from town says:
Why do we have a system of government that decides for us!

Ask yourself, is this freedom? Free to do what someone else decides for us.

And every time you vote, you endorse your loss of control.

Power to the people!
Aug. 24, 2017, 2:01 pm
Tyler from pps says:
This is EXACTLY the part of Brooklyn that is the appropriate place for high-density residential building.
Aug. 24, 2017, 2:34 pm
Gargoyle from NewKirk Plaza says:
What "low rise aesthetic"?
Aug. 24, 2017, 11:51 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
A low-rise neighborhood has no business being in such a transit rich neighborhood.
Aug. 25, 2017, 10:22 am
Alex from Boerum Hill says:
Just to be clear to commenters: current zoning law forbids this project. The developers require a change to current zoning law. This is a simply a for-profit development with a false nod to historic preservation. Anyone who is familiar with the surrounding area can immediately understand this. This triangle is outside the downtown Brooklyn district. If the developers were truly interested in historic preservation, they would restrict the high rise development to the Flatbush corridor. The notion of more classrooms is quite cynical since the net impact of the development will be less classrooms (!) given its residential component.
Aug. 25, 2017, 10:52 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Alex, I don't care that a current exclusionary zoning law is in place to keep Boerum Hill residents' investments growing. Tall dense buildings belong near dense transit.
Aug. 25, 2017, 11:36 am
nosum says:
Wow! Mike is smarter than the Department of City Planning, who put the current zoning in place. (Isn't all zoning both inclusionary and exclusionary? Isn't that the whole point of zoning?) And Gargoyle, I think "low-rise aesthetic" is being used as a synonym for row-house neighborhood. Maybe someone should propose a 74-story tall building for the site of the abandoned gas station at East 16th and Newkirk. Mike would approve; it's right next to an express stop on the Brighton Beach line.
Aug. 25, 2017, 2:28 pm
P, Snyder from Boerum Hill says:
I've lived here since 1964. Then Boerum Hill was in a special district for tearing down brownstones which became empty; then-mayor Lindsay felt that's what we needed to keep empty houses from being drug-dealing hangouts. Now we are targeted for having hi-rise buildings gifted to us. From one madness to another!..our nabe is evidently always the perfect solution --from tearing down to building up!
Aug. 25, 2017, 3:24 pm
Art from Boerum Hill says:
Not the right time....definitely, not the right place!
Aug. 25, 2017, 6:12 pm
Lucy from Fort Greene says:
This transit rich site has already reached more than capacity with the many new high rises that have already been built or that are in process. The big lie is that they will be providing school seats when in fact they will have a negative impact since there will be more school age children in the two new developments than they are providing. 350 seats is the smallest possible school. We already pay taxes to build schools. The developer will pay no taxes and we will all subsidize the developer to walk away with big profit. The developer only builds the shale of the school. The City builds out the school and pays for the teachers. The developer laughs all the way to the bank.
Aug. 25, 2017, 11:31 pm
Enid Braun from Fort Greene says:
The draft scoping area was a 400' radius, smaller than the shadow the building would cast. The impacts would affect two neighborhoods and everyone traveling through by car on Flatbush and public transit. The notion that we all are dependent on the private sector to provide schools and other public needs is an abdication of government. This debate is not about protecting what has become, admittedly, a privileged real estate-wealthy area, but more an issue of real estate profits trumping actual public policy for the greater good. Developers receive tax credits and other abatements for a handful of so-called affordable units, while destroying whole neighborhoods through secondary displacement. Look what happened to Lower Manhattan under Bloomberg: what were real neighborhoods, where people knew one another and could say hello on the street became playgrounds for tourists and high rises with apartments that are vacant much of the year. New Yorkers do not benefit, only investors and the developers themselves.
Aug. 26, 2017, 12:10 am
Watching a double-talking Mayor from Brooklyn says:
Was there ever any more disingenuous double-speak than the hype from this bought and paid for Mayor?

The 'pact with the Devil' he's made means that unless our tax levies are parlayed into gifting to developers (i.e. his campaign funders) children will have to do without ample schools...NYCHA residents will have to live in mold infested housing...MTA travelers will be forced into sardine cans on wheels...We have to put up...or shut up!

An abuse of our tax dollars for his pals, such as Alloy, BFC, Two Trees, Rabsky, Chetrit- et al, enable the further misappropriation of Brooklyn -invading communities-displacing generations of families and if this were not enough...stealing the sky from neighborhoods writ large.
Aug. 26, 2017, 9:16 am
Dave from Brooklyn says:
Hi Local Morons,

If high density housing isn't appropriate for Downtown (on top of every subway line), can you explain where is high-density housing appropriate?
Aug. 28, 2017, 11:21 am
Frank from Furter says:
Hi Dave let them build it across from your house. It's not a 3 story house. The current zoning allows about a 48 story building. That isn't tall enough for you? Have you tried to get on the subway there during rush hour now? Does that make you a moron?
Aug. 28, 2017, 6:13 pm
Joe says:
If you don't like skyscrapers move to the country.
Aug. 29, 2017, 12:50 pm
Sanity from NYC says:
The city desperately needs new housing, this building will provide a huge amount of new housing right next to existing mass transit.

There is no rational argument against this development.
Aug. 29, 2017, 1:17 pm
Brooklyn Brooklyn from Boerum Hill says:
Sanity -

Are you aware of how many giant buildings are going up in this area already? its madness. A housing shortage for over expensive 2 bedrooms - please. They can't even fill the ones going up right now. This will make the developers money and that's about it. And "New schools" are a canard, they will literally be filled with the kids of the people in the building, nothing for the greater Brooklyn school shortage.

The reason these two buildings are provoking such a response is that they aren't in downtown - they are in an actual neighborhood. You know, like an actual neighborhood where people feel a sense of community. There is no building this tall in the west village, the east village, soho, the upper east side, the upper west side, Williamsburg, Harlem, Astoria - i could go on. We're talking about a 72 story monstrosity across from 3 story brownstones. Alloy could build a giant 38
story building as of right but that doesn't suit them financially so they are going in for the kill.

And De Blasio wants the photo op. Oh the irony - park slope's progressive mayor sells Brooklyn to the highest bidder.
Aug. 30, 2017, 12:35 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I know I'm pretty late on this, but I have been busy with other things lately, so here's my take. Whenever I read from those who support this project, I almost feel as if they were sent by the developer themselves to come and defend this. I can still remember when there were a number of paid supporters for the Atlantic Yards (now known as Pacific Park) who I have encountered both online and in person on that. Also, when I asked them some hardball questions on that project, they had a history of acting very defensive at me while some actually made personal attacks or in some cases wished me dead. In the end, I did have the last laugh, because I knew that the arena, which wound up being known as the Barclays Center, was nothing more than a Trojan Horse that Forrest City Ratner used to ride on win such support, while the so-called affordable housing was just to win such groups over even though they will most likely never get it let alone qualify for it either hence the bait and switch. One other thing, the neighborhood it got built in was never rezoned by ULURP, it was actually sidestepped by the state through SEQRA, which allowed for Ratner to bypass all city zoning laws that would have never allowed for this. As for the opposition such as DDDB, they weren't opposed to development on the Vanderbuilt Yards, they did have an alternative plan known as the UNITY Plan, which didn't use anything Ratner was using. Nevertheless, I will always see that complex as both a product of eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare in showing how some developers can always get their way just by having friends in high places. Seriously, I can't get how any developer can't build something out of character especially in areas that can't even handle the existing infrastructure.
Aug. 30, 2017, 4:03 pm
Dan from Park Slope says:
Let the city build the schools somewhere else and scale the upcoming buildings to a size that all parties can live with. Is this impossible?
Oct. 5, 2017, 3:55 pm

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