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B’Hill pol: 80 Flatbush must shrink by a third, lose commercial space, to get my vote

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The developer asking the city to rezone a swath of land in Boerum Hill to make way for its five-building 80 Flatbush complex must reduce the size of the massive project by a third in order to gain the critical vote of the councilman whose district it would rise in, the pol told the Brooklyn Paper.

“Right now I would like to see the scale of the project be decreased,” Boerum Hill Councilman Stephen Levin said on Wednesday.

Dumbo-based Alloy Development’s proposed complex would include two newly built 986- and 560-foot towers along with three rehabilitated buildings on a swath of land bounded by Flatbush and Third avenues and State and Schermerhorn streets. Together, the structures would hold some 900 apartments, 200 of which would be below-market-rate, along with two new schools, and cultural and commercial space.

But in order to break ground, the city must green-light an upzoning that would nearly triple the plot’s allowable floor-area ratio — a zoning measurement abbreviated as “far” that determines how high a structure can be relative to the size of the land it is on — from 6.5 to 18.

And Levin, who at a Council hearing this month told Alloy reps that the lot “ought to be transitional” between Downtown’s skyscrapers and Boerum Hill’s Brownstones, is urging the developer to redesign its scheme with a maximum far of 12 — the citywide cap for buildings with so-called affordable housing — during closed-door discussions following the hearing, echoing modifications that a local civic group previously suggested to the builder.

“The Boerum Hill Association suggested decreasing to 12 far and that seems reasonable to me.” Levin said after a meeting with the developer on Monday.

The pol recommended axing the complex’s commercial space as a way to reduce its density while keeping as many of its planned public benefits — which include a new 350-seat elementary school and much-needed new classrooms for high schoolers enrolled at the Khalil Gibran International Academy, whose current crumbling building is on the 80 Flatbush lot and would be restored for reuse as part of Alloy’s original scheme.

“What I would like to see is a smaller project, potentially eliminate commercial,” Levin said. “I’ve encouraged everybody to think about prioritizing the benefits.”

The councilman also asked both city officials and Alloy bigwigs for more details on what he called the “complicated” financial agreement they brokered in order for the builder to develop the shared public-private lot, he said.

Levin previously accused the Department of Education of forcing him to make a Sophie’s Choice between the schools and the polarizing towers they would sit inside, blasting the agency for not being more proactive in bringing more desks to his overcrowded district over his eight years in office.

But last week, Mayor DeBlasio, whose administration supports the 80 Flatbush project, said it’s more important to build the complex as proposed and alleviate that overcrowding problem than bicker over what led to it.

“If something wasn’t built in the past, I don’t have a time machine. I’ve got to deal with today,” Hizzoner said during a sit-down with local media on Aug. 23.

A rep for Alloy declined to comment on whether it would act on Levin’s suggestions before Council’s vote on the rezoning, which is likely to happen on Sept. 14.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:49 am, August 31, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Very disappointing that Levin is prioritizing wealthy property-owners and their community garden over the needs of the rest of his district and the city as a whole.
Aug. 31, 7:58 am
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Tap tap...is this thing on? Shameless Alloy
should with zoning as it exists and not one
inch more. That's my firm position. And I
with 50+ neighbors from Downtown were out on
Flatbush in rush hour traffic yesterday
picketing to oppose this evil developer.

To the Mayor and Board of Education: build
the site out 100% with schools. Plan ahead
for heaven's sake. Failed planning is no
justification for absurd and insulting
development as in 80 Flatbush.
Aug. 31, 9:23 am
Frank from Ft Greene says:
Steve Levin sounds as weak as ever. Sounds like he'll be voting for this luxury project because the Mayor wants him to.
Aug. 31, 10:09 am
Sasha from Fort Greene says:
Levin can always be counted on to sell out. He can't out and out vote for a big luxury project because he's a progressive, for the poor, against corporations, which is why a couple of schools are baked in. Levin can say he wishes they didn't come with a thousand foot skyscraper but they do so he's going to approve.
Aug. 31, 10:39 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
NYC already has a number of luxury apartment towers that can barely sell despite the process it took to get them built and are seen as a major glut, so I don't see how this one will be any different.
Aug. 31, 12:53 pm
Historian from Fort Greene says:
Tal, you're so right.
Aug. 31, 3:58 pm
Jon from Park Slope says:
This project needs to be fully denied any zoning change. They bought a property with a FAR 6, asked for FAR 18, fully knowing they’d only get FAR 12 approved. It’s what they always wanted... they’re getting what they wanted.

This is a shady deal!
Aug. 31, 6:09 pm
BrooklynLove from Fort Greene says:
It’s depressing that a smal l group of loud people could ruin this for everyone.
Look at LICH for some reality.
This developer will build 2 100% lux towers as of right with zero affordable housing or community benefits (school, etc) if the zoning change is made worthless.
Aug. 31, 8:38 pm
David D from Midwood says:
Levin, What are you thinking?? Last thing we need is another luxury tower with no jobs. We need the commercial space not the luxury residential or fake affordable housing. Commercial space houses companies witch in turn house good paying jobs. Having more good paying jobs for New Yorkers is more important than luxury housing. Think about it, How many people does a luxury residential building employ vs a commercial building of the same size?? So scrap the Luxury housing and keep the office/retail component. Downtown Brooklyn has lost over 1 million sq feet of office space since the rezoning, by conversion to residential or demolition to residential. This in turn has shrunk the available space for companies,doctors, lawyers, not for profits ect. and jobs. Asking to cut the commercial part of 80 flatbush shows you dont understand the full dynamics, economics and importance of Downtown Brooklyn as the citys 3rd business district.
Aug. 31, 8:42 pm
Jock Ewing from Dubai says:
Shrink it by a third? That will ruin the future great skyline of Brooklyn. The height is needed or else it will be just another boring boxy building.
Sept. 1, 1:01 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wouldn't be surprised if those such as BrooklynLove are paid by developers to come and defend their projects while vilifying those who oppose them. There have been such claims to that making it not much of a rumor. On a side note, I wonder what BrooklynLove got in the end for backing the Atlantic Yards (now called Pacific Park). My guess is that he probably he got nothing more than a t-shirt that said, "I supported this project and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." He will probably get something similar for this one.
Sept. 1, 2:04 pm
Jade from Dallas says:
Ah yes, the "my opponent disagrees with me so he must be a paid shill" argument. Clearly no-one can think differently from you through their own volition - no, they must be PAID to do it!
Sept. 2, 2:31 am
BrooklynLove from Fort Greene says:
Lovely conspiracy theory.
I am a homeowner who lives a few blocks away.
And grew up nearby as well.
And raising a family here.
I have zero stake in this project aside from being part of the community it will benefit.
Sept. 2, 7:31 am
Jim from Fort Greene says:
The school nonsense is a red herring. There will be enough additional kids introduced to the neighborhood LIVING in these monsters to fill up the "new" school. The older one that's being revamped is already filled. So there's actually no net gain in terms of additional school slots for those living in the community. But then of course the Mayor and the developers have had a lot of experience lying with ststistics; they've been doing it for years, manufacturing illusions like "a new school! affordable housing" to get donor/developers what they want.
Sept. 2, 5:32 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The paid shill claim isn't far off. I can still remember those who supported the Atlantic Yards (now called Pacific Park) were known for getting donations of some sort from Forest City Ratner. As a matter of fact, whenever I asked them to go into detail on why they supported it, they usually had the tendency to either act very defensive or start using profanity to ward me off rather than just give explanations for their answers. In the end, those such as myself had the last laugh, because the so-called benefits were just jokes, and I don't feel bad, because I didn't support. As for BrooklynLove, I can still from when you get put in your place for defending the Atlantic Yards on Brownstoner not to mention got pretty defensive whenever you were asked to explain why you backed it so much. I won't be surprised if those who support this project are paid by the developer as well otherwise they wouldn't be defensive on it.
Sept. 3, 1:36 pm
BrooklynLove from Fort Greene says:
What is the basis for your assertions?

It has been widely reported that KGA’s capacity would increase to 350 with the new building. The school’s current enrollment is closer to 250.

The environmental impact statement shows that the deficit in available seats at area elementary and intermediate schools would be 87 seats lower with the proposed new towers and school than it would be with the as of right development, which would not include a new school or any KGA redevelopment.
Sept. 3, 3:06 pm
BrooklynLove from Fort Greene says:
Tal - are you sober?
Sept. 3, 3:08 pm
Holly Chang says:
Does a big building threaten his masculinity?

Is he just over-compensating for his other *shortcomings*? He he he...
Sept. 3, 4:31 pm
AC from Upper West Side says:
Take Out the Mechanical sections, and commercial sectors. Sure. Aside from that, the project should be unchanged.

Market-Rate: Get those two words into your head. This isn't a luxury development, no part of it is unless you are saying that Boerum Hill is luxury, and while that isn't a far-fetched claim, by NYC standards, I cannot give that to you guys. The official website says Market-rate, right when you go to it, that's among the first things you see. Reasonably, in a development like this, only the penthouses, and a few floors below that would rate as luxurious most likely. But let's look at what's going in: New facilities for an international school, plus a brand new elementary school, 200 affordable houses, 722 market-rate apartments, a new cultural center, retail as always, and commercial/office space. And to you guys, the fact that it's too tall beats that out. If you are going to deprive 922 lower and middle-class families housing just so you can keep your views and your light, light that you'll retain after 10:00 am is just messed up. This building tackles overcrowding in schools and the housing crisis at once. Is it most effective? Maybe not, but it surely is a step in the right direction. You guys are truly conceited and delusional. This is honestly sick. Is this a perfect method to combat overcrowded schools and the housing crisis? Not particularly, but is it a step in the right direction? Absolutely, and people need to realize that.

But here's an idea for the garden: Ask for rooftop space and facilities in the building. You can even build in that area as well, between the heights of 300 Ashland and 80 Flatbush, that would be another great addition. Instead of trying to fight the situation, take advantage of it. That way, you go from losing light from Ashland to having unimpeded light all day.

Go ahead, bash me in the comments for being paid to do this, and being all wrong, or not understanding because I'm not from Brooklyn, and having no idea what I am talking about. Let me just tell you that I am saying this out of my own free will, and no one is telling me what to say or what to do, and let me also tell you that, while yes, I am pro-development in general, I do draw the line at reason. That Rafael Vinoly tower rising on the East Side, with stilts. That's atrocious, ugly, and shouldn't be going up. It serves absolutely no one, not even those who live in it really. The Upper West Side towers should really have at least 4 apartments per floor at a minimum, instead of having two. Seriously, 120 combined stories for 240 units it's barely enough, even given the slenderness of the towers. Those should easily accommodate 500 units at least combined. While 80 Flatbush isn't what I would necessarily call striking, what it contributes to Brooklyn and the neighborhood as a whole far outweighs the fact that it's taller than all but one building in the borough. This building needs to be built, for the sake of Brooklyn.
Sept. 3, 8:21 pm
BrooklynLove from Fort Greene says:
The situation is especially frustrating because the developer can, and will, build as-of-right, and that development would also be large (on a height and sqft basis), but include no schools, community space or affordable units.

Such a development would be lux - even by your Manhattan standards.
Look at Brooklyn Point and 11 Hoyt for reference points.
Look at Alloy’s other developments in DUMBO for reference points.
Look at the Fortis’ LICH project for reference points - not only for lux - but also an example of what happens when a developer moves forward with an as-of-right development instead of something more substantial that would have included affordable housing and a school.
Sept. 4, 5:07 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
Brooklyn Point is advertised as luxurious and is also being built by Extell Development, a large New York City development firm that has built/is building some of the largest, and most controversial towers, in the city, i.e. One Manhattan Square, Central Park Tower, 50 West 66th street, One57. 11 Hoyt is also advertised as luxurious as well. And Alloy's other projects are also advertised as Luxury as well. 80 Flatbush isn't.

Also, given the size and stature of Alloy development, one would think if they are trying to get zoning changes for a project of this magnitude, they wouldn't try to find some loophole. Again, they are small and haven't built anything higher than 12 stories, and they are about to try to push the envelope and get something built 6x taller. If the plans were to suddenly change, then they would immediately lose any credibility, and any other larger scale project they would propose would get shot down immediately. Possibly all their future projects might be shot down depending on the circumstances if they don't follow through exactly with what they advertise on their official website. The whole idea of this project is the betterment of the community as a whole, providing to the city what it's sorely lacking. Throwing that all away, and instead, giving people 400 condos and commercial, they would lose all credibility, and they would lose a lot of their supporters, and they will probably never be allowed to build something larger than their previous projects... that just seems logical, do what's advertised...

And to your point, if the buildings get shrunk and/or they have to come up with entirely new plans, most likely, they'll be less inclined to put in affordable housing, because the middle floors will gain a lot more value if the physical roof height comes down, since they are now closer to the top.
Sept. 4, 10:11 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I'm just tired of hearing the claims that these buildings will a benefit for the neighborhood when that has been proven false multiple times. Whenever they say affordable housing, it seems to make me think that they don't mean for the working classes or even the regular middle class by that definition. Also, much of the claim of public space is a joke as well as much of it only for those living there hence their backyards, not parks or greenspace. Keep in mind that NYC already has a lot of luxury housing that many of which isn't even fully occupied on a regular basis. As for my mention of paid shills, the Atlantic Yards was biggest example of such, and I can still remember at one of the hearings, the supporters were known for disrupting one of them with whistles whenever the opposition came to speak. Another thing is that ACORN, which is normally for affordable housing was known for getting numerous perks and donations from Forest City Ratner for taking his side, while BUILD was clearly a group his company created to voice support with no prior history of existing before it. I know some of you will bring up DDDB, but they came from a group known as the Prospect Heights Action Coalition that has existed for decades to fight gentrification in their neighborhood. For the record, I wasn't paid by any group to take such a position, I did that on my own and I represent myself. Overall, there is no need for more luxury apartment glut.
Sept. 4, 11:15 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
In a statement in a meeting, they confirmed that the tower can be afforded to those that make $29,000 a year, and again, this is a small firm trying to make an impact with something huge. If this were Extell, Rafael Vinoly, SJP, that would be a completely different story, but Alloy is small, 12 people to be exact, if they were really trying to enact a bait and switch tactic, they should've at least established themselves as a well known trustworthy development firm first, worthy of some huge projects. So many different organizations are coming out in support of this project, non-profits, and those who provide for the homeless and impoverished. Notable names like the 5th Avenue institute (I think that's the name, correct me if I am wrong.) Once they realize that Alloy has an ulterior motive, they will pull their support instantaneously. Like I told BrookylnLove, they would lose all credibility, and they would most certainly have to revert back to doing their tiny, under 10 story projects again. They

And again, the apartments are advertised as Market-Rate. Unless you're claiming that Boerum Hill is predominantly luxurious brownstones (Which, again, while not far-fetched, I cannot exactly agree with), saying that these apartments are luxury is a flat out lie, when the advertisement, literally when you first open up the website says that it says, and I quote, "Affordable and market-rate housing," and this website has been up for quite some time now.
Sept. 4, 3:35 pm

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