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Rezoning seed replanted: Builder again seeks green light for polarizing Botanic Garden–adjacent tower

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This builder is emerging from the shadows.

The developer that last year abruptly abandoned its controversial request to rezone land near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to make way for 20-story residential towers quietly resubmitted the application in April, according to a Department of City Planning spokesman.

Cornell Realty bigwigs again asked the city to okay an upzoning to make way for two 175-foot Crown Heights high-rises on Carroll and Crown streets near the Prospect Heights garden — where current regulations cap buildings’ heights at 70 feet to prevent their shadows from depriving plants of precious sunlight — exactly 12 months after they nixed an identical request as thousands of critics from as far away as the United Kingdom signed an online petition condemning the scheme.

“Having visited many times, I’m sure growth can be better accommodated without compromising your own zoning regulations,” said Mark Hamill, a petition signee who listed his location as Manchester, United Kingdom.

But before Cornell pulled its first upzoning request, the firm conducted city-mandated shadow studies it claimed proved its towers wouldn’t hurt the Botanic Garden’s flora, green space spokeswoman Elizabeth Reina-Longoria said at the time.

News of the developer’s second upzoning attempt, however, comes as Botanic Garden leaders publicly denounced another development on Franklin Street near the green space, whose builder is pushing for its own upzoning to allow for a 37-story residential complex.

“Brooklyn Botanic Garden is strongly advocating to maintain the site’s current zoning, which was put in place, in part, to protect the garden’s conservatories from building shadows,” Reina-Longoria said.

Continuum Company chief Bruce Eichner in December filed preliminary documents requesting to rezone the site of an old Crown Heights spice factory at 960 Franklin Ave. between Montgomery Street and Sullivan Place — where current relations restrict height to seven stories or less — in order to erect a six-tower complex with structures between 27- and 37-stories tall, not counting rooftop bulkheads to house mechanical equipment.

The development site is about a block away from the Botanic Garden’s indoor greenhouse at the Steinhardt Conservatory, and its high-rises could potentially block light from reaching the plants within, slowly starving them to death, Reina-Longoria said.

“Our main concern with Continuum’s proposal is that its towers that could have significant shadow impact on the garden’s conservatory, nursery, and other collections,” she said.

And the Botanic Garden’s opposition to the Franklin Avenue complex will likely grow stronger with the release of shadow-impact studies a local anti-gentrification group commissioned from Pratt University and City College, the results of which will be shared later this month, according to the organization’s leader Alicia Boyd.

The studies, which the group funded with roughly $3,000 in donations, examined how detrimental the new buildings’ shadows would be to Botanic Garden plants, as well as how badly the green things could be burned by light reflecting off the structures, Boyd said.

Eichner returned a message requesting comment, but only by accident, and declined to speak further upon realizing he called a reporter.

Find out the results of the universities’ shadow studies at St. Francis de Sales School of the Deaf [260 Eastern Pkwy. between Franklin and Classon avenues in Crown Heights, (718) 636–4573] on June 20 at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:43 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
There are several other proposed highrises in the area. One building, which will be 13 stories, is actually on a site the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG] itself sold a couple of years ago. Another is slightly further away, but is also quite tall.

Redevelopment in this area is inevitable, but the fact that one of the likely selling points for these tall buildings is that they will overlook the BBG is an irony not lost on me.

I am a member of the Garden, and I strongly support the movement to block the construction of these buildings.
June 7, 10:37 am
Mike’s Bot from Williamsburg says:
If you want sunlight, move to Ohio.
June 7, 11:50 am
Bill Lombard from Cobble hill says:
The endless overbuilding will never end, The endless money and greed that are destroying the fabric of Brooklyn wont be stopped until it’s too late. Right now subway stations are over capacity. The streets are clogged with reams of livery drivers and out of control delivery bikes going every illegal way. No one really has really done anything to really improve our quality of life. All they have created is a Epcot playground for the rich.
June 7, 11:44 pm
Marcy from Park Slope says:
If they make the building out of glass, the sun could shine through.

Or, if they make the building with a circular hole in the middle, sun could also shine in.
June 8, 5:24 am
Jay from Crownheights says:
The politicians that rep this area,will give the green light for developer's to build and support the gentrification,and they are democrats,this keep there 300,000 or 400,000 year salary intact,shame on these democrats, republicans are no better,we the people must take a stand period.
June 8, 12:15 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Stop these developers before they destroy our most precious public resources.
June 8, 3:45 pm
Steve from Crown Heights says:
Maybe the only way to stop the developers is to stop voting for Democrats. In this part of Brooklyn every politician in office is Democrat and every single one is in the pocket of developers. These Democrats sell us out to developers every day.
June 9, 8:35 am
Mr. Bookman from The Whole of the Kings County Pie says:
How many skyscrapers does Brooklyn need? Can’t we cap them to dedicated low to middle income residentials with tax benefits to the developers/landlords? Where is the infrastructure going to come in to support all of these Manhattan-wannabe structures?
June 10, 7:15 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
Water Tunnel #3 is not even operational for Brooklyn yet and still the government is packing more people in -- a disaster waiting to happen.
June 10, 9:07 am

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