BSA Approves Variance for New Brooklyn Hotel

Jeff Smilow testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Jeff Smilow testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Board granted the variance over community opposition.  On May 19, 2015 the Board of Standards and Appeals granted a variance to Bond Street Owner LLC for constructing a new thirteen-story hotel at 51-63 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn.  The development site is partially within a C6-1 zoning district and partially within an R6B district.  The Department of Buildings originally denied the permit on August 7, 2014 because the proposed hotel exceeded the maximum floor area ratio for the site.  On August 15, 2014 the applicant filed for a variance.

Public hearings were held on February 10, 2015, with continuing hearings on March 24 and April 28.  At the February hearing, project engineer Jeff Smilow testified an MTA subway tunnel and access mezzanine lie underneath seventy percent of the proposed building site at depths ranging from seven to sixteen feet, creating a hardship in how the site may be developed.  Because of the shallow depth of ground above the MTA encumbrances, a traditional hotel foundation system cannot be constructed, forcing the hotel to house operations above-grade that would normally happen in a cellar or sub-cellar and reducing the amount of floor area that can be given over to hotel rooms.  Area residents testified against the proposal, voicing concerns over increases in vehicle and pedestrian traffic, trash, noise, a proposed outdoor space adjacent to residences, and inconsistency with the low-rise residential character of the surrounding streets.

On May 19, 2015 the Board voted 4-0 to approve the variance with conditions capping the building height at one hundred eighty-six feet and a maximum of 8.63 FAR.  The Board also required facades abutting residential areas be consistent with the appearance and character of those residences, that all service pickups and deliveries occur along the building’s Schemerhorn Street loading dock, and refuse must remain within the building until immediately prior to collection.  The Board found the variance was necessary to realize a reasonable return on investment and constructing the hotel would not alter the neighborhood’s essential character, impair the use or development of adjacent properties, or be a detriment to the public welfare.

BSA:  51-63 Bond Street (186-14-BZ ) (Law Office of Lyra J. Altman, for Bond Street Owner, LLC, owner) (May 19, 2015).

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