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IN RESPONSE TO LAND USE APPLICATIONS TO REZONE BLOCK SURROUNDING 80 FLATBUSH AVENUE, BOROUGH PRESIDENT CALLS FOR REDUCTION IN SKYSCRAPER HEIGHT, QUALITY-OF-LIFE MEASURES FOR RESIDENTS OF STATE STREET, CREATION OF NEW SUBWAY ENTRANCE, CONSIDERATION OF NEW PUBLIC SCHOOL SITES, COMPLETION OF WILLOUGHBY SQUARE
BROOKLYN, NY, June 15, 2018: Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams unveiled his recommendations for the proposed towers at 80 Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, as part of a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) response to disapprove with conditions applications submitted by the New York City Educational Construction Fund (ECF) and 80 Flatbush Avenue, LLC for zoning map and text amendments to establish a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) area on the block bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Schermerhorn Street, State Street, and Third Avenue; such actions would be intended to facilitate a new development encompassing more than 1.1 million square feet, inclusive of commercial office, cultural, residential, retail, and school space. The response was issued following months of dialogue with local stakeholders and community activists, including a public hearing that Borough President Adams hosted on Monday, April 30th with several hundred attendees. In his ULURP response, he noted that while his administration encourages transit-oriented development that produces affordable housing and commercial space, as well as supports the creation of much-needed school space for Khalil Gibran International Academy in addition to a new elementary school for Community School District 15 (CSD 15), he believes this project should also be considerate of the low-density context of the contiguous Boerum Hill community; as such, he called for a reduction in the bulk and height of the proposed skyscraper on Third Avenue. Additionally, his recommendations emphasized the importance of quality-of-life measures for residents of State Street, the creation of a new subway entrance for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center station complex, the consideration of new public school sites in CSD 15, and the advancement of the open space at Willoughby Square.
“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,” said Borough President Adams. “The voices of Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and adjoining communities are reflected in these recommendations, which I hope will be thoughtfully considered as this ULURP application moves through the process.”
Borough President Adams advised a restriction of more than one-third of the proposed maximum height for the Third Avenue skyscraper, recommending a cap at 600 feet that would be contextual with the adjacent Hub building, and further advocated for a more limited zoning change on the block. With respect to those living on the 500 block of State Street, who would be most impacted by the project, Borough President Adams asked that the Flatbush Avenue tower’s loading dock be located to Schermerhorn Street, and that the new elementary school be moved to the Third Avenue side of the development. To decouple a portion of the development from ECF funding — which would help advance a reduction in the project’s overall height and bulk — he asked the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to commit to funding the new elementary school. Also, with concern for the ongoing growth within CSD 15, he called for DOE and the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) to take the necessary steps that would initiate public consideration for the siting of public schools as part of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s Next Gen initiative Wyckoff Gardens RFP sites and the pending NYU Langone-Cobble Hill emergency room development site, in consultation with Brooklyn Community Board 6 (CB 6) and local elected officials. Borough President Adams proposed the project’s developer contribute financially for a subway entrance in the new development that would connect to the MTA’s Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center station complex, which he believes would reduce stairwell congestion and promote access to public transit. Additionally, regarding Willoughby Square — an open space first conceptualized in the Downtown Brooklyn Plan adopted in 2004 — he asked that the City credit the proposed development’s parking requirement to the garage that would serve as the foundation for the open space on its street-level roof.
As per his administration’s standing policy, Borough President Adams’ ULURP response emphasized the need for an assurance of diversity in the bedroom mix of affordable units to accommodate families with children as well as very low-income seniors, including those who are formerly homeless. In respect to community preference, he suggested the proposed development’s affordable housing lottery be inclusive of residents from NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens, as well as households with children who attend local schools. Borough President Adams’ recommendations additionally addressed the importance of furthering Vision Zero-related street design, promoting resilient and sustainable design measures, as well as retaining Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors, especially those who are designated locally-based enterprises (LBEs) and minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). Finally, due to the public health and quality-of-life issues associated with a proliferation of rats in Boerum Hill and nearby neighborhoods, as a result of recent construction, he urged the developers to create a rat mitigation strategy including, but not limited to, a robust baiting plan, rat-related enforcement measures, and other pest control efforts in and around the site.
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