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

Unprecedented! Developer seeks super tall tower for Boerum Hill block
Alloy Development

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 lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill