On September 7, 2022, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for the 280 Bergen Street Rezoning project, an application that would enable the construction of a four-building mixed use development in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. The applicant seeks to rezone the majority of the block surrounded by Bergen Street to the north, Wyckoff Street to the south, Nevins Street to the west and Third Avenue to the east.
The project would facilitate the construction of four buildings, including two nine-story buildings and two-three story townhomes. The largest building, Sycamore Place, would be located on Bergen Street, contain 250 units and include community and retail space, a package room, bicycle storage and other amenity space for residents. The other three buildings would be on Wyckoff Street. The nine-story Linden Place would have 46 units. The two townhomes would have three units each. The applicant is seeking Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 2, which would create 90 units of affordable housing at an average of 80 percent area median income.
To facilitate the project, the applicant is seeking a rezoning from a manufacturing district to residential districts with one commercial overlay. The applicant claimed the new residential rezoning would allow for a more transitional block between the lower density areas to the north and west and the taller buildings to the south and east.
The applicants will also be seeking a waiver for parking requirements in the future. The plans had originally contained a 125-space parking garage to meet parking requirements, but the community board had raised concerns that the parking garage was unnecessary given the site’s close proximity to the Atlantic Ave – Barclays Center transit hub. The special permit to waive the requirements is not included in this current application, but the applicant has started the process.
The requested rezoning area includes 98 Third Avenue, a rezoning approved earlier this year that would enable the construction of an eight story mixed use building at the corner of Bergen Street and Third Avenue. The 98 Third Avenue rezoning consisted of the lots on the western side of Third Avenue from Bergen Street to Wyckoff Street, and includes several City-owned lots.
The applicant currently has existing leases with several of the City-owned sites on the block. According to the applicant, from discussions with Council Member Lincoln Restler he would not support the application unless the applicant agreed to give up the leases to allow the City to redevelop the sites to build 100 percent affordable housing. The applicant stated that they are currently working with the Departments of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to figure out how to establish those commitments.
On June 27, 2022, Brooklyn Community Board 2 disapproved the 280 Bergen Street project, citing concerns with the midblock height of the Sycamore Place building, insufficient affordability, and the absence of sustainability strategies.
On August 24, 2022, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso conditionally approved the project, citing the area’s need for affordable housing and believed the proposed density was appropriate for the area. Borough President Reynoso stated he wanted to see deeper affordability out of the project and more sustainable elements included in the building. In response, the applicant stated that they were committing to designing the buildings to LEED standards but could not commit to a specific certification path at this time.
Chair Dan Garodnick asked about the affordability, the midblock density, the possibility of seeking out a further setback above the fourth floor, and asked for more information regarding the lease issue.
Commissioner David Burney asked about the retail space on Bergen Street and how the applicant planned to market the space, as Bergen Street is light on retail compared to the neighboring Atlantic Avenue. The applicant responded that they believe the space would best serve local foot clientele.
Commissioner Juan Osorio asked about compliance with Local Laws 92 and 94, which require new projects to incorporate green roofs or solar roof systems. Commissioner Osorio commented that this could be an opportunity to build infrastructure to support greater energy efficiency with consideration for the future development of the rest of the block. The applicant replied that solar arrays were worth considering given Sycamore Place’s large roof but they had also been considering using the roof for a green roof or tenant recreation space. Commissioner Osorio also asked about seeking deeper affordability. The applicant stated that the future plans to build 100 percent affordable housing on the City-owned sites would provide deeper affordability.
Commissioner Raj Rampershad asked about how the space previously reserved for parking would be used. According to the applicant, the parking spaces would have been located in the rear yard in a one-story building with parking stackers. That building would be eliminated, and given zoning regulations it wouldn’t impact the floor area ratio or dramatically change what could be included in the larger building. The parking would take up approximately 1,400 square feet of space. Commissioners David Gold and Richard Eaddy questioned if there were alternative uses for this space. The applicant said it could be used as open space for residents.
Commissioner Leila Bozorg commented in support of supporting density in transit-rich areas and seconding Chair Garodnick’s comments about considering changes to the feel of that density.
Commissioner Osorio encouraged the applicants to seek public input about how open spaces in the project site can be designed and used.
There were no members of the public who testified for this application.
The City Planning Commission will vote on this application at a later date.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018).