Upward momentum: Beep rejects rezoning for 80 Flatbush complex, suggesting tweaks that could lead to compromise

Inconspicuous construction: Builder of massive 80 Flatbush project tweaks one tower’s look to better fit nabe
Alloy Development/Luxigon

It’s a no — but not a never.

Borough President Adams rejected a developer’s application to rezone a swath of land at the edge of Boerum Hill in order to erect a five-building megadevelopment, arguing that its tallest 986-foot tower needs to shrink by more than 300 feet before it can rise.

But the beep’s June 15 recommendation that the city “disapprove with conditions” the upzoning request for 80 Flatbush could open the door to negotiations with builder Alloy Development about its controversial project, and the types of revisions needed for critics to embrace it, according to the leader of a group opposing the scheme as is.

“If Alloy would take these recommendations we’d be very happy to have a conversation with it about how this plays out,” said Boerum Hill Association president Howard Kolins. “We’d love to see that plan, and hopefully see it’s a starting point, not a done deal.”

Alloy wants to rezone a plot of land bounded by Flatbush and Third avenues and State and Schermerhorn streets in order to erect a complex that includes newly constructed 986- and 560-foot towers and a separate two-school facility built from the ground up, as well as two restored properties already on site. In addition to new classrooms, the complex would boast cultural and commercial spaces along with 900 residential units, 200 of which will be so-called affordable housing, according to the developer.

But in order to proceed, the city must green-light the developer’s request to nearly triple the land’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, which is roughly one-third larger than the citywide cap of 12 for buildings with below-market-rate housing.

And Kolins and other Boerum Hillers from day one charged the project’s massive towers are out of context with their neighborhood’s many landmarked brownstones just blocks away — a complaint Adams echoed when rejecting the current scheme, citing the need to maintain the integrity of blocks surrounding 80 Flatbush as just as important as the development’s public good.

“My goal is to realize the perfect combination of addressing the need to create affordable housing — the most critical issue facing Brooklyn — while simultaneously taking into consideration the history of the neighborhood,” Adams said in his purely advisory recommendation, which he delivered on the heels of his April 30 public hearing on 80 Flatbush.

The beep suggested Alloy cap its taller tower at just 600 feet so that its height more closely mirrors that of its already standing neighbor, the 610-foot Hub building on Schermerhorn Street, which is currently the borough’s tallest high-rise.

Adams also proposed minor changes — which included relocating the complex’s loading dock from Flatbush Avenue to Schermerhorn Street and moving the entrance to one of the schools to the Third Avenue–side of the development — that he called quality-of-life measures to mitigate the project’s effects on locals who live on the blocks immediately surrounding 80 Flatbush.

And he wants Alloy bigwigs to cough up cash to help fund a new subway entrance that would connect the complex to the nearby Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center hub in order to reduce congestion at existing stations and promote public transit.

Kolins applauded the beep’s suggestions, noting that implementing them all would result in a much different project — one he and fellow critics would need to see before they could believe in its potential to benefit the area.

“He made a lot of recommendations and it remains to be seen how those would be acted upon,” he said. “What is the project when all recommendations are taken into account? That is what’s hard to discern.”

An Alloy rep declined to comment on whether it would break ground on a development that includes all of Adams’s recommendations, but a bigwig at the firm embraced the beep’s feedback as a win nonetheless.

“We appreciate that the decision reflects the widespread support we’ve received for the project, both in the neighborhood and citywide,” said Jared Della Valle.

Adams’s disapproval with conditions followed Community Board 2’s outright rejection of the scheme back in May, which the lone board member in support of the development called short-sighted at the time, because it left no room for negotiations.

The City Planning Commission will next vote on Alloy’s rezoning application following its June 13 hearing on the proposal — which an Alloy rep said drew more supporters than opponents — before the request moves onto Council, and ultimately Mayor DeBlasio.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.