This developer is counting its blessings.
Clinton Hill civic gurus approved a real-estate firm’s request to rezone a neighborhood lot next door to an ancient church, which the company promised to restore if granted permission to erect a tower on the land now occupied by a beloved neighborhood bar.
Community Board 2’s full board on Wednesday green-lit the rezoning requested by Hope Street Capital — a real-estate-investment firm comprised of builders 550 Clinton Partners and 539 Vanderbilt Partners — which is pushing for the change in order to build interconnected 29-story and four-story mixed-use buildings on land bounded by Atlantic, Clinton, and Vanderbilt avenues that is currently occupied by watering hole Hot Bird, whose owners plan to shutter the bar next month, as well as a car wash, auto-body shop, and kitchen-supply store.
Together, the proposed buildings will boast about 286 rental apartments, roughly 55 of which would be below-market-rate.
And in exchange for the city approving its scheme, the firm promised to restore Clinton Avenue’s landmarked Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street, which desperately needs a facelift, according to the architect tapped to construct the tower.
“It is actually in poor shape, a lot of deterioration and structural damage,” Morris Adjmi said during an October meeting of CB2’s Land Use Committee, which that month approved the rezoning request as part of its journey through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. “It needs a substantial amount of repair work.”
The proposal requires church leaders to hand over a little more than a football field’s worth of buildable sky space above their property, or air rights, to the developer in exchange for it footing the $4.5-million bill to restore the roof, steeple, stained-glass windows, and other parts of the house of worship.
If the rezoning is approved, Hope Street Capital bigwigs will also in perpetuity fund an endowment of an undisclosed amount that leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which oversees the church, can use for ongoing maintenance after the big renovation, according to the firm’s attorney, who said the scheme already received the blessing of officials on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, who had to sign off on the proposal as the church is a city landmark.
Clergy at St. Luke and St. Matthew — who serve the community by operating dance and theater workshops, drug-prevention programs, and other support groups — said the deal would be a gift from above to the old church, which is in desperate need of salvation after several bouts of bad luck, including four fires.
“It’s a long standing beacon of Clinton Hill, it has weathered enormous change in its lifetime and is still going strong,” said Rev. Julie Hoplamazian. “It has always been a home to people who have needed one.”
CB2’s full board approved the rezoning request with the conditions that the developer cap the cost of its so-called affordable units at 60 percent of the area-median income, and include a loading zone for retailers that will occupy the new towers’ commercial space.
The request now moves onto Borough President Adams, who will hold a hearing on it on Nov. 27, then to the City Planning Commission, Council, and ultimately Mayor DeBlasio.
Borough President Adams’s hearing on the Hope Street Capital project at Borough Hall (209 Joralemon St. between Court Street and Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard in Downtown) on Nov. 27 at 6 pm.