Developer claimed structural limitations made off-street parking economically infeasible. POKO Partners LLC, a property manager and developer of low-income housing, planned to convert a 50,000sq.ft. vacant theater at 1501 Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn into a seven-story mixed-use development with two floors of retail, commercial, and community facility space and five floors of residential use. If the 66-unit building were constructed as proposed, 33 off-street parking spaces would be required. POKO sought a variance from the parking requirement from BSA.
POKO claimed that providing off-street parking was infeasible partly because the existing building covered the entire lot area, leaving no open space for parking. POKO also argued that structural limitations did not allow for subsurface parking since the existing cellar was shallow and only partially excavated, and that if parking were required on the ground floor, rental income would be eliminated, thereby rendering the project economically infeasible. In response to BSA’s inquiry about whether the cellar could provide parking, POKO claimed that inconsistent cellar heights would require costly demolition and might weaken the aging, 1930s structure.
BSA granted the variance, finding that the as-of-right scenario with ground floor parking would not provide a reasonable return. BSA also found that eliminating the parking requirement would not alter the essential character of the neighborhood nor would it impair the future development of the area, noting POKO’s contentions that the area contained several mixed-use buildings and did not suffer from a lack of on-street parking, and that adding residential units would not generate significant parking demand since the anticipated, lower income residents were collectively expected to own few cars.