Planning Commission approves two new residential buildings in northeast Brooklyn with up to 88 affordable units. On March 8, 2017, the City Planning Commission issued a favorable report on an application to construct two new mixed-used buildings opposite of each other on Franklin Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The developer, Riverside Developers USA Inc., requested the upzoning of the two project sites from manufacturing zoning districts to joint residential and commercial zones. The application included a zoning text amendment to designate the two project sites as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing areas.
The first project site, located on the southwest corner of Flushing Avenue and Franklin Avenue, currently contains a one-story industrial building, and a one- and two-story commercial catering hall formerly operated by Rose Castle. The developer proposes to redeveloped the site as an eight-story, 176,670 square foot mixed-use residential and commercial building. The site would include 84 parking spaces below ground. The developer expects the project to create 168 dwelling units, 50 of which would be affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.
The second project site, on mid-block on the east side of the street at 43 Franklin Avenue, currently operates as a parking lot. The developer proposes the construction of a six-story, 126,839 square foot residential building. The site would include 64 parking spaces below ground. The developer projects the site would create 128 dwelling units, 38 of which would be affordable units.
On December 14, 2017, Brooklyn Community Board 3 voted 18-17 with two abstentions, failing a majority for or against the project. After further reconsideration including input by City Council Member Stephen Levin, the Board voted 24-4 to recommend the application with certain modifications: (1) that the developer consider a lower level of affordability, as the proposed levels of 80 percent to 115 percent far exceeded the local income levels, (2) that the developer use a local not-for-profit to administer the affordable housing, (3) that the upzoning be lessened, and (4) that the Board be able to meet and discuss the projects with the principals of the developer
On January 11, 2017, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recommended approval with his own conditions. Like the Community Board, Adams suggested a lower level of average median income for the affordable units and that the developer utilized a not-for-profit to administer the units. He also conditioned his approval on the developer, to the extent possible, explore additional resiliency and sustainability measures and retain Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors to meet or exceed standards per City law of 20 percent local participation.
The City Planning Commission, with one commissioner abstaining, voted 11-1 to approve the application. Regarding the Community Board and President’s recommendation of a lesser upzoning, in its final report, the Commission noted that Flushing Avenue is a major thoroughfare with similarly sized buildings lining the street. The report also noted that the developer expressed an interest in allowing a not-for-profit administer the affordable units at the Commission’s hearing.
The application will move to the City Council for consideration in the coming weeks.
CPC: 376–378 Flushing Avenue and 43 Franklin Avenue (C 160221 ZMK; N 160222 ZRK) (March 8, 2017).
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).