New Bedford Avenue Apartment Building to Replace Underutilized Gas Station

Rendering of 895 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. Image Credit: CPC

The new building will provide 36 apartments, eleven of which will be affordable. On November 14, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on an application for a rezoning at 895 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. The applicant, 895 Bedford Avenue Realty LLC, proposes to build a seven-story residential building with ground retail space at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Willoughby Avenue.  

Eric Palatnik, the attorney for the applicant, presented the project. The applicant’s site is presently zoned for manufacturing uses and currently is used as a gas station that is severely underperforming. The applicant believes the site would be better served with a mix of residential and commercial uses. The applicant proposes a seven-story building that would be 68 feet tall without a setback and have approximately 38,000 square feet of floor area. The building would have 36 dwelling units. The building would have retail space on the ground floor of approximately 4,000 square feet and an outdoor area in the back for resident use. No parking would be provided as none is required by the proposed zoning changes.

In order to accomplish this, the applicant is seeking to rezone several lots, in addition to 895 Bedford Avenue, that face Willoughby Avenue to the south, Bedford Avenue to the west, and Spencer Street to the east. The applicant is also requesting that the rezoned area be mapped as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area, with MIH Options 1 and 2. Owners of the lots affected by this rezoning will have to adhere to MIH guidelines if they develop, enlarge, or convert their properties to residential use with more than ten units or 12,500 square feet. Mapping of both MIH Option 1 and 2, as proposed by the applicant, will give these lot owners the choice between the two Options, which have different affordable unit set-aside requirements.

For the proposed building at 895 Bedford Avenue, the applicant has selected Option 2 of MIH. Under MIH Option 2, the applicant is required to provide 30 percent of the units at 80 percent of the Area Median Income. To comply with these requirements, the applicant is proposing a total of eleven affordable units, with four units at 60 percent AMI, three units at 80 percent AMI, and four units at 100 percent AMI. The area median income for this community is approximately $52,000 per year and the expected market rate rents for this building are $2,500 for one bedroom and $3,400 for two bedrooms.

On October 4, 2018, the application received a favorable recommendation from the Brooklyn Community Board 3, with a vote of 19 in favor, twelve  opposed, and three abstentions. Those who opposed the project voiced concern over whether the applicant would hire local residents for the construction of the proposed building. According to Palatnik, the applicant has engaged with the community and works with an organization called “By the Numbers” to ensure community involvement on this and the applicant’s other projects in the area.

On November 2, 2018, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams issued a conditional approval for the project. As part of his approval, Borough President Adams asked that the applicant memorialize in writing to City Council that a mix of bedrooms is provided with at least half being two and three bedroom units and that at least 75 percent of the units are one bedroom or greater. The Borough President also asked that the applicant use a locally based affordable housing development non-profit organization as the administering agent and promoter of the affordable housing. The Borough President asked that developers commit to streetscape improvements and explore additional resiliency measures for the building such as blue, green, or white roof, or solar panels. Finally, the Borough President asked that the applicant retain Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors and commit to a local building service workforce with prevailing wages and benefits.

The City Planning Commission closed the hearing with no members of the public testifying for or against the proposed project. City Planning will vote on this project at a later date.


By: Viktoriya Gray (Viktoriya is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018).


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