Unprecedented! Developer seeks super tall tower for Boerum Hill block

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

Well, they’re certainly not thinking small!

Luxury developers revealed this week a plan to construct towers of 74 and 38 stories on the eastern edge of very low-rise Boerum Hill — a proposal of unprecedented density that neighbors will likely fight.

“It’s a massive project,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association. “Virtually nothing [in the proposal] is a benefit for people living there. You have to brace yourself for a large high rise that you’d rather not be there.”

Alloy Development — which bought up the existing buildings on the block bounded by Third Avenue, Flatbush Avenue Extension, and State Street, but was cagey on the details last year— disagreed, citing 200 units of below-market-rate housing in the 900-unit mixed-use complex, which will also feature retail and two new schools — one a 350-student elementary facility and another a new building for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, which will be able to expand from 160 to 350 students.

The plan would allow the Gibran Academy to move from its current, dilapidated space inside a 19th-century former Civil War infirmary, which would then be preserved as a cultural space, though Alloy did not reveal details.

“Communities suffer when their growth isn’t supported by the necessary infrastructure, which is why providing two new schools, keeping people working in Brooklyn, expanding access to arts and culture, and building affordable housing are foundational to our vision for the project,” said Jared Della Valle, CEO of Alloy Development. “We look forward to a thoughtful, open dialogue that will make this project better.”

Well, he’ll certainly get a dialogue, thoughtful or otherwise. After all, Alloy’s proposal is huge — a whopping 50 percent bigger than current zoning allows. Overall, the project calls for a floor-area-ratio — which is a measure of a project’s size relative to the lot size — of 18, even though the current city cap is 12.

Last year, a developer tried to rezone a Downtown lot to the same 18 floor-area ratio, but that bid was shot down, as members of the City Council did not want to set a precedent that would open the door to massive development. That company, Savanna, eventually downsized the plan and got its rezoning.

But Alloy’s effort to break the ultimate glass ceiling might succeed, said the local pol whose voice will carry weight among the full Council, which typically defers to the member who represents the affected neighborhood.

“It’s a little bit different than a regular private development going for 18 FAR in that it’s got two schools,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill). “There’s a significant public benefit associated with it that isn’t associated with every private development project.”

That said, Levin said he won’t make up his mind on the project until he talks to residents near the proposed development. He has already raised concerns about the location of a proposed loading dock on quiet State Street, where trucks would be unwelcome.

“How many Amazon Prime deliveries are going to be queuing up?” Levin asked. “It’s not really fair to State Street to have the entire vehicular of the block on it.”

The high-rises would tower over the nearby brownstones in Boerum Hill, but will fit in with other developments along Flatbush, including Two Trees Management’s 32-story 300 Ashland, formerly known as BAM South; Jonathan Rose Companies’ under-construction 12-story property at Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue; and the Gotham Organization’s soon-to-open 53-story apartment building and food hall at Fulton Street and Ashland Place.

The lengthy rezoning approval process for the Alloy project would begin in the fall, if all goes to plan.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill