Council signs off on rezoning and land disposition of City-owned waterfront property in Mill Basin

Credit: Google maps

City will convey waterfront property to Kristal Auto Mall and an existing Toys ‘R’ Us retail store on Flatbush Avenue. On May 15, 2012, the City Council approved the Department of Small Business Services’ plan to facilitate the relocation of Kristal Auto Mall to a site on Flatbush Avenue abutting Mill Basin in Brooklyn. The City-owned project site is occupied by a 45,000-square-foot Toys ‘R’ Us store and a 400-space accessory parking lot used by surrounding businesses. To the south of the site is another City-owned parcel consisting of 400,000 sq.ft. of undeveloped land abutting Four Sparrow Marsh. The proposal called for, among other things, disposing of nearly 240,000 sq.ft. of City-owned property, demapping an unimproved strip of Flatbush Avenue, and rezoning the project site from C3 to C8-1.

Under the plan, Kristal Auto Mall will purchase a 110,000-square-foot portion of the parking lot in order to move from its current location at 5200 Kings Highway. Kristal plans to redevelop the property with a 114,000-square-foot facility housing a showroom, offices, and a service facility. A second 4,000-square-foot building will be used for used-car sales.

Toys ‘R’ Us will purchase approximately 132,000 sq.ft of land that it has been leasing from the City since 1985. Toys ‘R’ Us intends to undertake minor site improvements, but otherwise has no plans for further development on the property. In order to replace some of the parking lost to Kristal Auto Mall, Toys ‘R’ Us will lease and redevelop a 26,000-square-foot portion of the undeveloped City-owned land to the south. As part of SBS’s proposal, the land dispositions to Toys ‘R’ Us would include restrictions prohibiting auto-related and semi-industrial uses on the site.

Brooklyn Community Board 18 conditionally approved the plan. Among their recommendations, CB 18 requested that the property along the water’s edge be planted with deciduous trees and tall evergreens so the buildings would not be visible from the water. CB 18 strongly opposed the application to demap the unimproved portion of Flatbush Avenue.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also approved the plan with several conditions. Markowitz recommended against demapping the portion of Flatbush Avenue near the proposed Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot. He also recommended that the landscaping and plantings be used to screen the buildings from the water and open space. Markowitz acknowledged that the existing toy store and proposed car dealership use did not trigger the zoning resolution’s public waterfront access requirements, but he urged the City to provide necessary waterfront public access improvements in anticipation of future commercial and retail uses in the area resulting from the rezoning. Markowitz asked the City to officially map Four Sparrow Marsh as parkland. Additionally, Markowitz asked the City to consider developing a mid-sized specialty food store on a portion of the remaining City-controlled land.

At the City Planning Commission’s public hearing in February 2012, no one spoke in opposition. Two local residents, however, expressed concern about the future use of the undeveloped City-owned parcel south of the project site. Both residents testified that the site’s future development should include smaller stores and not a Wal-Mart-type, big-box store. The Commission unanimously approved the proposal.

At the City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee public hearing on May 8, 2012, local Council Member Lewis A. Fidler noted that the proposal had been in development since before he took office, but said the long negotiations had improved the proposal. Fidler, however, said he was waiting for a letter from the City’s Economic Development Corporation confirming that if Toys ‘R’ Us sells its property, the new owner would need to go before the Brooklyn Borough Board before changing the use on the land. Richard Bearak, land use director at the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, reiterated the borough president’s recommendations. In response, Fidler stated that many of the borough president’s concerns had been addressed outside of the formal land use actions. Chair Mark Weprin recessed the hearing.

EDC provided Fidler with the necessary documentation, and when the Subcommittee reconvened on May 10, 2012, the proposal was approved. The Land Use Committee followed suit later that day. The full Council approved the proposal on May 15, 2012.


ULURP Process
Lead Agency: Deputy Mayor for Econ. Dev., Neg. Dec.
Comm. Bd.: BK 18, App’d
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 11-0-0
Council: App’d, 48-0-0

Council: Mill Basin (C 120108 ZMK – rezoning); (C 070512 MMK – demapping); (C 120111 PPK – disposition); (N 120110 ZCK – chair certification); (N 120109 ZAK – authorization) (May 15, 2012).

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