CPC Hears Application for Mixed-Use Building in Gravesend

Rendering of 58 Nixon Court under the alternative R7A rezoning plan. Image Credit: CPC/Caliendo Architects.

The applicants are seeking an alternative rezoning after pushback from the community board. On February 1, 2023, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for a mixed-use development at 58 Nixon Court in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The current site consists of four vacant lots between Nixon Court and Shore Parkway. Coney Island Hospital is located across Ocean Parkway from the proposed site. The applicants are represented by Erik Palatnik.

The application was originally certified as a proposed nine-story building with 21 units, including five affordable units. An alternative proposal was presented to the City Planning Commission at this public hearing seeking a seven-story building with 16 units, including four affordable units. Under both proposals, the building would include eight residential parking spaces and include a commercial overlay to enable ground floor retail space. 

The alternative proposal arose after Brooklyn Community Board 13 had issues with the project. Originally, the proposed project requested a rezoning from the current R5 district that allows an FAR of 1.25 (ex. small apartment houses and three- to four-story attached houses) to an R7X district, which would enable an FAR of up to 5.0. Inclusionary buildings with an FAR of 6.0 can be seen in the 12- to 14-story apartment buildings on major thoroughfares in neighborhoods like Harlem or Jackson Heights. The original proposal would also include an adjacent 12-story building at 2650 Ocean Parkway that was currently out of compliance with the local zoning, and the rezoning would allow that building to expand. Members of the community pushed back against this, citing fears of overdevelopment. On December 22, 2022, Brooklyn Community Board 13 voted against the project. 

Mr. Palatnik made an alternative proposal to reduce the size of the building from nine to seven stories, and to seek out an alternative rezoning of an R7A, which would only allow an FAR of 4.6. In R7X districts, inclusionary buildings can be up to 105 feet tall, but in R7A districts, inclusionary buildings can only be up to 90 feet tall. The R7A district would not enable the adjacent building to be enlarged. The community board discussed this alternative proposal at a January meeting.

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso voted to support the original project with conditions including the installation of rain gardens and to incorporate further resilience and sustainability measures and features into the building’s design. According to Nelly Hennessy of Caliendo Architects, the firm who designed the building, the building will include a green roof, solar-collecting windows, chargers for electric vehicles and a porous geo-paved parking surface, which is a permeable surface that helps with natural stormwater infiltration. The building will also be solar ready. As the building is in a flood zone, Ms. Hennessy noted that the building’s lobby and mechanical systems would be elevated above the floodplain. In addition, as requirements dictate that the building must be pushed back from Ocean Parkway, a small green space will be in front of the building with plants. 

At the public hearing, Mr. Palatnik discussed both plans but asked the City Planning Commission to only consider the R7A plan, acknowledging that the request goes against City Planning’s goal of creating as much housing as possible but emphasized the value in still gaining the sixteen units of housing with the four affordable units over nothing at all. While the project could be adjusted at a future place like the City Council, according to Mr. Palatnik delivering the change now may allow the community board to have greater confidence in the project. 

City Planning Chair Dan Garodnick asked for clarification regarding which proposal the community board wanted. Mr. Palatnik stated, “I’ll clarify because I do not have a community board vote of support, I don’t want to misrepresent. It is my belief after spending hours upon hours in conversation that the R7A proposal will garner the support of the community board.” When asked what happens if the community board doesn’t support the R7A proposal, Mr. Palatnik responded, “I could be wrong on that . . . and I could lose the community board and in which the application would lose at that point as the councilman [Council Member Ari Kagan] has indicated he won’t support it without the community board’s support.” 

Commissioner Joseph Douek asked about the retail space. The area is heavily pedestrianized but does not have a lot of retail options. The community board expressed that they did not want things like tattoo parlors or smoke shops in the space. The applicants agreed to put local retail like a coffee shop or something medical in the retail space. 

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.)



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