Church Seeks To Develop Affordable Housing Amidst Opposition From Residents

142 South Portland Avenue. Image credit: Google Maps.

The 100% affordable housing development faced height and scale opposition by neighborhood residents. On April 11, 2018, the City Planning Commission heard proposals for the 142-150 South Portland Avenue Rezoning in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The rezoning is led by the Hanson Place Adventist Church, who seeks to develop a mixed-use residential building. The proposal will create a new 13-story building owned by the Church.  The plan will also allow for commercial use on the ground floor. The applicants are represented by Sheldon Lobel P.C. 

The rezoning will provide for a higher Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and height limit on property bounded by South Elliot Place, Hanson Place, South Portland Avenue and a midblock to the South. The current R7A zoning has a maximum FAR up to 4.6 and building height of up to 95 feet if the building participates in the Inclusionary Housing Program or provides certain senior facilities. However, several buildings have a FAR and height above the maximum. The Church’s building in adjacent on the rear side to a 12-story building. On the northeast corner of the block there is a building at a 6.61 FAR and on the southern portion of the block there are two 15-story residential buildings. Applicants’ rezoning to an R8A proposal will provide for a FAR up to 7.02 and a building height up to 145 feet if the building participates in the Inclusionary Housing Program or provides certain senior facilities. However, applicants want to impose a 95-foot height limitation on the southern portion of the site. The rezoning area will be designated as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area and include a commercial district overlay of 100-feet from Hanson Place. The rezoning will also extend the Special Downtown Brooklyn District coterminous with the project area.

The new building will provide 22,000 square feet of community space. The building will include conference rooms and office space for church and community use, affordable health care services, a multi-purpose space with commercial kitchen, and music instruction programs for the community. The building will also allow for the expansion of the Church’s social services.

Rendering of new building. Image credit: CPC.

The building would be 100% affordable. The Church will provide different level of affordability for its 99 residential units: 10 units at 40% Average Minimum Income (AMI) for approximate incomes between $20,000 and $30,000; 15 units at 60% AMI for approximate incomes between $30,000 and $66,000; 30 units at 100% AMI for approximate incomes between $47,000 and $144,000; and 44 units at 130% AMI for approximate incomes between $62,000 and $183,000. Applicants included the 40% AMI tier at the request of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. The affordability tiers are part of the mixed middle-income program, which the applicants state the current unit breakdown exceeds the number of low-income units required.

The project will be meeting the MIH Option 2 requirements of 30% of the units. Though the Borough President requested that the project complies with MIH Option 1, the applicants determined that Option 1’s units and size requirements would add an extra $1 million to the project, which would not be financially feasible. Option 2 would require 30% of the building to have permanently affordable MIH units, which would include the 10 units at 40% affordability.

Community residents spoke against the development and rezoning. Residents’ principal objection is the 130-foot height of the building which is 45% taller than what is permissible under the current zoning. One speaker in opposition spoke about the 2007 rezoning of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, which aimed to prevent out-of-scale developments in or near historical row house blocks and that this application threatens the promises made in the 2007 rezoning to maintain the character and aesthetic of the neighborhoods. Those opposing the application expect the building to face issues with filling up the units. One speaker stated that the building should be 100% affordable with 30% AMI affordability across the board.


CPC: South Portland Avenue Rezoning (C 180096 ZMK, April 11, 2018).

By: Dorichel Rodriguez (Dorichel is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2017.)

One thought on “Church Seeks To Develop Affordable Housing Amidst Opposition From Residents

  1. What a great project! There is not much affordable housing in Fort Greene. This would be a welcome project. This church has been a strong community partner for years. It’s good to see them providing affordable housing and expanding their services. I don’t understand the argument about height. There are several buildings on that block 14 and 15 stories.

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