City Planning Holds Hearing on Nine-Story Mixed-Use Building in Bensonhurst

Blueprint of proposed 9-story building at 5914 Bay Parkway./Image Credit: SUW 4 LLC/CPC

The applicants propose to bring eleven affordable housing units under the City’s Workforce Option to Bensonhurst. On March 4, 2020, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on an application to rezone part of a low-density residential zoning district in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The applicant, SUW 4 LLC, proposes to rezone the northwest corner of 60th Street and Bay Parkway, which is a 10,108 square foot vacant lot. Under the current zoning, only three- to four- story residential buildings are allowed. The proposed rezoning will allow as-of-right eleven-story residential buildings with commercial use. The applicant plans to construct a nine-story, mixed-use building on the entire lot, with the address of 5914 Bay Parkway. The new building will have residential, commercial, and community facility uses.

Currently, there are predominately two-story residential buildings located west of the vacant lot along the north side of 60th Street. There is a three-story residential building located east of the vacant lot on the west side of Bay Parkway. There is a nine-story medical facility on the southwest corner of 60th Street and Bay Parkway, a one-story commercial building containing a Rite Aid pharmacy on the northeast corner of 60th Street and Bay Parkway, and the former Bishop Kearney High School is located on the southeast corner of 60th Street and Bay Parkway.

The new nine-story building will rise up to a height of

Present Day Picture of the NW Corner of 60th Street and Bay Parkway./Image Credit: Google Maps

95 feet and will have setbacks at the second and seventh floors. The building will have approximately 5,800 square feet of ground-floor commercial space for local retail. The building’s second floor will have approximately 6,200 square feet of community facility space. Rachel Scall of Greenberg Traurig LLP, counsel for the applicant, stated that the applicant was looking to use the space for medical offices. However, based on Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams’s recommendation, they are also considering local arts or non-profit organizations to fill the community facility space.

The remaining space in the building will be for residential use. The applicant proposes 36 residential units for the building, with a mix of one-,two-, and three-bedroom units. The applicant is proposing that eleven units are set aside under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Workforce Option. Under the MIH Workforce Option, 30 percent of residential units are set aside for residents with incomes averaging 115% AMI or approximately $123,000 per year for a four-person household. The option requires five percent of the units to be set aside for households at 70 percent AMI and five percent of the units to be set aside for households at 90 percent AMI.  The MIH Workforce Option sets aside affordable housing for individuals in the middle class, such as nurses, police officers, or firefighters, who have a higher average income than what is set aside by the other MIH options.

On January 24, 2020, Brooklyn Community Board 12 approved the application with the condition that the applicant should provide more accessory parking spaces. Based on the community board’s recommendation, the applicant committed to providing 25 accessory parking spaces, which is 10 more than what is required by zoning regulations.

On February 21, 2020, Borough President Eric L. Adams approved the application with recommendations. Borough President Adams’s recommendations include setting aside at least 50 percent of the units to be two- or three-bedroom units and at least 75 percent of the units to be one-bedroom units for families, hiring a Brooklyn-based contractor and subcontractor for the project to create jobs for the local community, and adding more sustainable and resilient features to the building such as a green roof and rain gardens.

At the March 4th City Planning hearing, Rachel Scall stated that there were no objections to the Workforce Option from Brooklyn Community Board 12, Borough President Adams, and local Council Member Kalman Yeger. However, at the March 2nd review session, Commissioner Michelle de la Uz stated that the applicants needed more time to look into the workforce option.

Commissioner Michelle de la Uz explained her comments from the review session and stated that using the workforce option may make it harder for the applicants to fill the units and meet MIH requirements to receive a Certificate of Occupancy, a legal document that describes how a building will be used. A Certificate of Occupancy is required before anyone can legally occupy a building. To receive a Certificate of Occupancy for an MIH development, a developer must show that they are able to lease out all the affordable units.

Commissioner de la Uz noted that there were two reasons why the workforce option may make it hard to fill out the building’s affordable units. First, she explains that the workforce option for the project’s local community is around market rate. Second, she explains that in other districts that have used the workforce option, units above 100 percent AMI have been harder to fill. She suggests that the applicants look at a marketing plan to fill the units before deciding on the Workforce Option.

Commissioner Joseph Douek also asked the applicants about how the project will meet Borough President Adams’s recommendations on the bedroom unit mix and sustainability features. David Weiss, the project’s developer, stated that the applicants will work on incorporating the Borough President’s recommendations on the number of one-,two-, and three-bedrooms. He also stated that the applicants are incorporating a green roof and rain gardens to the proposed building’s design.

City Planning will vote on this application at a later date.


By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019).

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