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Panel says no to another Downtown tower

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The Manhattan-based developer seeking approval to upzone a swath of land in America’s Downtown in order to build a 40-story tower on Fulton Street — just a few blocks from where builders recently got the okay to erect two shrunken high-rises as part of the controversial 80 Flatbush mega-development — must nix its application, according to local civic leaders who blasted the scheme during a Sept. 13 Community Board 2 public hearing on the project.

“This upzoning is outrageous, and we’re always faced with this. I think we should really take a stand,” said CB2 member Carolyn Hubbard-Kamunanwire. “No developer comes and says, ‘We’re going to build something the way it should be built.’ ”

The Slate Property Group wants to erect a 558-foot mixed-use tower between Rockwell Place and Flatbush Avenue filled with 139 apartments — roughly 40 of which will be below-market-rate units — and office space specifically designed for what the developers are calling “boutique Brooklyn businesses.”

But in order for the project to break ground, the city must sign off on an upzoning to increase the plot’s allowable “floor-area ratio” — a formula used to calculate the total amount of square space a developer can build on a particular plot of land. The number, which varies by zone and use, is multiplied by the area of the property to determine how tall a building can be. Slate needs the floor-area ratio boosted from 12 to 18 to accommodate the commercial portion of the development.

Members of CB2’s Land Use Committee rejected the rezoning application 5-to-1, with one abstention. It now moves to the full board, which will cast its purely advisory vote, then to Borough President Adams, the City Planning Commission, Council, and finally Mayor DeBlasio as part of the city’s lengthy Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure.

The developers said they plan to erect a 215-foot as-of-right building filled mostly with condos if the city ultimately rejects the application, but the hope to get the green light in order to create a project that better serves the growing neighborhood, according to a bigwig at Slate Property Group.

“570 Fulton is a transformative project for Downtown Brooklyn, imagined with Brooklyn’s communities in mind,” said David Schwartz. “From office spaces for local business to affordable housing, this building puts Brooklyn first.”

But civic gurus blasted the real estate executives for trying to curry favor with community members by holding local charity events in the surrounding neighborhood leading up to the vote, most recently a back-to-school backpack give-away at Ingersoll Houses, a nearby public housing complex, just one day before the committee vote, on Sept. 12.

“They were trying to buy votes. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” said Land Use Committee member Esther Blount. “People are just that blind that a backpack would get them to sell out like that.”

But other community leaders called out board members for rejecting a project that would provide locals with even more housing options and office space, and would still sit about 280 feet below the taller of the two towers of Dumbo-based Alloy Development’s 80 Flatbush, and about 50 feet below the 610-foot Hub nearby.

“It is troubling that board members, who are supposed to represent this community, are so out of touch with the community,” said Ingersoll Houses Tenants Association president Darold Burgess in a statement. “We need affordable housing. We need space for local businesses. We need jobs. This building delivers for us, and is no bigger than other buildings right next door. What’s the problem?”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 8:55 am, September 28, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Stormy Daniels-Slutsky from Titusville says:
These community boards are doing a great job destroying the skyline of Brooklyn. Nice looking building, build it!
Sept. 27, 2018, 5:57 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
Look at the rendering. It's barely any taller than the building RIGHT NEXT TO IT. It's not that tall, and benefits the community. More than 1/4 of the apartments are going to be affordable, even more than 80 Flatbush Avenue. It's not even going to be the tallest building in Brooklyn, even if it was completed today. Honestly, this is appalling. Really. You guys are looking at the building for what it is, and even doing that does not, and should not justifying rejecting the rendering. It's not tall even by Brooklyn Standards, perfectly in context with the neighborhood at large, and will not do any harm, and instead, be beneficial in every way. But I will ask one last time: What do you want to see instead? Clearly a condo exclusive tower helps no one, so what do you want to see? And don't say nothing. Give a concrete answer.
Sept. 27, 2018, 9:52 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
When I say you're looking at what it is, I mean you're looking at the physical attributes, not what's going into it, which is very important in these cases.
Sept. 27, 2018, 9:53 am
James from Park slope says:
Kudos for stopping the monstrosity - we have enough construction. The developer get rich and the strap hangers suffer. We have an antiquated traffic and rail system that cannot possibly handle all this influx of new residents.
Sept. 27, 2018, 10:22 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
Okay, James, the second part of your statement is well intentioned, but it shouldn't be the concern of the developer. If we were to have developers build only according to the capacity that the subways could hold, then, except for Hudson Yards, literally every project under construction right now should stop, because considering the crisis that's going on in the subways and the rails, the MTA can't handle any more offices or residents citywide. The reasoning isn't exactly bad, but if we were to execute this, it would have far more harm than good. That is something the MTA has to worry about, not the developers. It's stifling for construction to respond to the subways exclusively, and not the other way around. But I would like to ask, how exactly is this building a monstrosity when the building right next to it is just a little bit shorter, and it's still shorter than the hub, and another building? How exactly is that a monstrosity? And again, I would ask, What would you want to see there instead?
Sept. 27, 2018, 11:08 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I really want to know what Tal thinks. I base my life on his opinions.
Sept. 27, 2018, 11:18 am
Gabe from Prospect Heights says:
I agree with James.
Sept. 27, 2018, 11:45 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Carolyn Hubbard-Kamunanwire should be removed from the CB for not knowing how things work. Projects that don't need CB approval don't need to seek CB approval--they just happen. AC from UWS should join Open New York, the YIMBY group.
Sept. 27, 2018, 12:04 pm
AC from Upper West Side says:
I don't know if that should be considered an insult or not. I am already a member of Open New York. But I will say this again. If you're not okay with slightly larger projects being built in and around the area of major hubs, then you're essentially encouraging developers to go outwards, into lower income areas. This kind of opposition why gentrification is taking hold of so many neighborhoods. You cannot possibly say that this building is too tall, because the height is so similar to the buildings surrounding it. Again, look at the rendering. The new building is only taller by it's neighbor by 2 stories, and the crown at the top. I will also bring this up. Something unique about 80 Flatbush was that Stephen Levin, and to a lesser extent, Eric Adams, gave a number, which is already 10 steps further along in this process automatically. And then Stephen Levin proceeded to negotiate with Alloy, and voila! He got a height cut. Maybe, if community board leaders and residents were to say, "Okay, let's talk about this for a second." instead of nixing the project altogether, real progress can be made. I tell this to my neighbors in the Upper West Side. This kind of strategy is relevant in every neighborhood, and as we saw with 80 Flatbush, compromise and discussion has real results. This is how it's done in America people. We talk these things out, and it works. https://ny.curbed.com/2016/5/9/11641588/nyc-top-15-gentrifying-neighborhoods-williamsburg-harlem-bushwick
Sept. 27, 2018, 6:26 pm
Cato the Elder from Rome says:
I have the same concrete answer to this issue as to all others. A JAIL MUST BE BUILT ON STATEN ISLAND.
Sept. 27, 2018, 7:42 pm
Man from Brooklyn says:
When did "developer" become a cuss word?
Sept. 27, 2018, 10:39 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It was a compliment.
Sept. 28, 2018, 8:46 am
Tower or Two from Brooklyn says:
A tower or two here and there is okay. Just not back to back like this. No air, no light, creates urban blight, so let's fight with all our might to get it right. I'd like to see Brooklyn have the most beautiful buildings, even bigger then Manhattan, after all we are bigger and better then them, so let's be smarter than them too and spread them out so we can see them, appreciate them, and enjoy them. Like a cake & eat it too thing ; )
Sept. 28, 2018, 9:04 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Can't put towers where they're "out of context." Can't put towers next to each other.
Sept. 28, 2018, 10:30 am
Frank from Furter says:
I am reliably informed that all these tall buildings will eventual cause downtown to fall over. The more they build the sooner it will happen.
Sept. 28, 2018, 11:10 am
Will from East Village says:
Esther Blount's statement is offensive––the idea that public housing residents would 'sell out' their neighborhood in exchange for a backpack is both classist and laughable.
Sept. 28, 2018, 11:42 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Opposing the project doesn't make anyone anti-development or against certain housing, it just gives them a better understanding of what's going on. Keep in mind that developers do have a history of giving broken promises and some of you tend to fall for their claims hook, line, and sinker only to get duped in the end. Overall, democracy is a double edged sword. If a developer has the right to destroy a neighborhood, then those living there have the right to saving it. Perhaps, some of you should try looking at why there are those who oppose it rather than how.
Sept. 29, 2018, 1:23 pm
AC from Upper West Side says:
Okay, I see exactly where you are going, and I am not going to say that what you said was wrong, because, in essence, it's not wrong. It's definitely well intentioned, but I will say this: saving a neighborhood is one thing, stifling development is another, and CB2, along with CB7 in my neighborhood is doing the latter.. Again, I will point to 1 Manhattan Square. That is an example of poor planning. I love the building's design, it looks great, but they could not have picked a worse to build it, and it's actually doing damage to the neighborhood (literally, it has destabilized the ground in the neighborhood.) and they are actually stealing light from those in the projects right behind them, and worse yet, they are trying to make a new neighborhood of these towers of similar height. Again, great construction, but they couldn't have picked a worse place to build it. Another example I like to dress is 249 East 62nd Street on the Upper East Side. That is a 510 foot tower that garners barely any units at all. It is probably the worst use of space out of all the new proposed developments in the city. And look at it, it's ugly. It's ambitious, but it's UGLY. That building I have encouraged to be redesigned because there are so many better ways at using that space than having literally 60% be a mechanical void. That's just dumb. But, bringing it closer to Brooklyn, both 80 Flatbush, and this building right here aren't doing that. Again, it's not out of context. Look at the building literally right next to it. And again, as I said with 80 Flatbush, if they break their promise, they'll lose all credibility, and they won't ever be allowed to build in Brooklyn again, a project of that scale. And it's either have this building, a small project with 139 apartments, 29% of them affordable, or have a 280 foot ultra-luxurious condo project that does nothing for the community, and here, they've made it more emphatic. Honestly, I would take this, it's 558 feet which isn't tall by Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens standards. Tal, being that you're one of the more respectable commenters on this page, I will ask you: What would you want to see built instead?
Sept. 29, 2018, 4:08 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
AC, if anything should be built, it should be something more within the scale of the neighborhood and with real affordable housing rather than what developers claim it to be. Seriously, I don't see why there always have to be new development when some just like the neighborhood as it is. Some are just opposing these projects because they feel that it will lead to gentrification that will eventually price them out due to rising costs. I do find it hard to believe that building more luxury housing will make all other housing in the area decrease in housing when the reverse tends to be more true. The reason I have used the Atlantic Yards is because it's a big example of broken promises and to make matters worse, the city and state are covering the costs rather than the developer himself. The other reason I opposed the Atlantic Yards was because Ratner was given the right to use eminent domain even though his project wasn't even public. More importantly, thanks to his connections with then-governor Pataki, Ratner was even allowed to bypass ULURP and get a special zoning through SEQR instead especially when he knew it could never get approval from the CBs if it had to go through the city. One other thing, those who lived in the planned footprint weren't fighting that project because they were going to be living with it, but because it was going where their property was, so in reality, they weren't being NIMBYs for that. Would you be for a project if it was going on your property? I would think not. As for transit hubs, developers only build near them if they know they can get certain tax deals on them otherwise they will just built in more affordable neighborhoods because they can get the land for less even if it means pricing out those that were there for generations.
Sept. 29, 2018, 5:23 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
AC, if anything should be built, it should be something more within the scale of the neighborhood and with real affordable housing rather than what developers claim it to be. Seriously, I don't see why there always have to be new development when some just like the neighborhood as it is. Some are just opposing these projects because they feel that it will lead to gentrification that will eventually price them out due to rising costs. I do find it hard to believe that building more luxury housing will make all other housing in the area decrease in housing when the reverse tends to be more true. The reason I have used the Atlantic Yards is because it's a big example of broken promises and to make matters worse, the city and state are covering the costs rather than the developer himself. The other reason I opposed the Atlantic Yards was because Ratner was given the right to use eminent domain even though his project wasn't even public. More importantly, thanks to his connections with then-governor Pataki, Ratner was even allowed to bypass ULURP and get a special zoning through SEQR instead especially when he knew it could never get approval from the CBs if it had to go through the city. One other thing, those who lived in the planned footprint weren't fighting that project because they were going to be living with it, but because it was going where their property was, so in reality, they weren't being NIMBYs for that. Would you be for a project if it was going on your property? I would think not. As for transit hubs, developers only build near them if they know they can get certain tax deals on them otherwise they will just built in more affordable neighborhoods because they can get the land for less even if it means pricing out those that were there for generations.
Sept. 29, 2018, 5:23 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Tal Barzilai, if anything should be built, it should be something more within the scale of the neighborhood and with real affordable housing rather than what developers claim it to be. Seriously, I don't see why there always have to be new development when some just like the neighborhood as it is. Some are just opposing these projects because they feel that it will lead to gentrification that will eventually price them out due to rising costs. I do find it hard to believe that building more luxury housing will make all other housing in the area decrease in housing when the reverse tends to be more true. The reason I have used the Atlantic Yards is because it's a big example of broken promises and to make matters worse, the city and state are covering the costs rather than the developer himself. The other reason I opposed the Atlantic Yards was because Ratner was given the right to use eminent domain even though his project wasn't even public. More importantly, thanks to his connections with then-governor Pataki, Ratner was even allowed to bypass ULURP and get a special zoning through SEQR instead especially when he knew it could never get approval from the CBs if it had to go through the city. One other thing, those who lived in the planned footprint weren't fighting that project because they were going to be living with it, but because it was going where their property was, so in reality, they weren't being NIMBYs for that. Would you be for a project if it was going on your property? I would think not. As for transit hubs, developers only build near them if they know they can get certain tax deals on them otherwise they will just built in more affordable neighborhoods because they can get the land for less even if it means pricing out those that were there for generations.
Sept. 29, 2018, 8:15 pm
AC from Upper West Side says:
Tal, I am looking at a 3D satellite model of the neighborhood from about June of 2017 (Courtesy of Google Maps. I don't know exactly when it's from, but considering the status of many different sites, I would say early Summer 2017.) I still don't see how it's out of context, or too tall. The buildings right next to it are either taller, or of similar height. I understand the idea of preserving a neighborhood, but people, especially in Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and again, where I am from, have taken that to the literal extreme. In the Upper West Side, they literally complain about every single new proposed project, which starts to get on me nerves. Even the really tiny ones. Vacancy rates are at 3.8% citywide, in manhattan they're below 1.4%. The city currently considers something a housing crisis when vacancy rates dip below 5%, so, we're beyond that. The model both Slate and Alloy proposed are the best models for fixing the housing crisis we've received so far. Have a luxury project with affordable units infused within them. It's a new trend, and I will say that it is also a good one. It's not perfect, but it helps. But another thing it does that people seem to overlook is that it actually does an effort to diversify neighborhoods, both racially, and economically. It helps the city. Honestly, the city has to allow for taller buildings and more units in a building. The entire city, especially areas in close proximity to major hubs need to be up zoned. So that means areas around Downtown, Midtown, Long Island City, Jamaica, Flushing, and Downtown Brooklyn. They all need to be up zoned, to accommodate for the influx of people. You can't exactly just shun people from a neighborhood just because you don't like it. What makes a neighborhood great is how it adapts to change. As for a general domino effect, that would happen, yes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the land is used in the right way, like 80 Flatbush, and I would classify this project under the same vein as well. Yes, there is a feel you get from a different neighborhood, but sometimes, when it comes to the betterment of the whole city, that feel, generally, needs to be sacrificed. Not destroyed, but sacrificed slowly. Yes, admittedly, part of me is slightly suspicious of this project, especially that they are selling their alternative options pretty hard, almost as a threat, but honestly, I would rather go this route, and if they break from plan, then you have a justification. I completely understand your concerns, and, you've actually gave some legitimate concerns (And Manhattan has it's problems with Extell development, and Rafael Vinoly, the latter I absolutely hate.) But the difference between those two developers and this one is that so far none of their projects have been design to help the city. While I do like some of Extell's projects, most of them, if not all of them are supposed to be luxurious, which, honestly, I am fine with. If the project proposal were the same height, but purely luxurious, I would still support it, but in this case, you would have a better defense against it. If Slate breaks their promise then yes, you would have every right to be worried and defensive, but they haven't yet. Innocent until proven guilty. One person's misdoings shouldn't bring down others.
Sept. 30, 2018, 9:07 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
I will apologize. That was a whole lot
Sept. 30, 2018, 9:07 am
Bill from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Affordable Housing should be affordable for the Brooklynites earning the AMI of Brooklyn, not West Chester. infrastructure should be able to handle ALL of the construction projects current and proposed. Where are the schools to handle the influx of school children? These are the issues the Board addresses when looking at projects for the existing community. What is the total impact of these construction projects to the community, realistically.
Oct. 25, 2018, 4:21 pm
Bill from Downtown Brooklyn says:
I also suggest the people not living in Brooklyn understand the ZONING of Brooklyn. This is not Manhattan, which is why everyone wants to live here. It is a much better quality of life and we are striving to preserve that.
Oct. 25, 2018, 4:26 pm

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