New shopping center proposed near the Belt Parkway

Thor Equities’ proposed 214,000 sq ft Gravesend Bay retail complex would feature BJ’s wholesale store as anchor tenant. On July 13, 2011, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on Thor Equities LLC’s proposal to construct a 214,000 sq.ft. two-story retail building on a vacant lot at 1752 Shore Parkway in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn. The project site sits on a peninsula that protrudes into Gravesend Bay, adjacent to the Belt Parkway. The site is currently used as a school bus parking facility. The development would also include a threestory 690-space parking garage and a 103,000 sq.ft. publicly accessible waterfront esplanade. Thor Equities requested special permits and a rezoning to facilitate the development.

The project site is within an industrial and commercial waterfront corridor that is separated from the residential neighborhood of Bensonhurst by the Belt Parkway. The corridor is mapped as an M3-1 manufacturing zoning district. Nearby commercial uses, including the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center, operate pursuant to BSA variances. 

Thor Equities anticipates that a BJ’s wholesale store would occupy the ground-floor of the development, with additional retail tenants above. Thor Equities proposed rezoning the site to an M1-1 district, which would allow it to apply for a special permit to build a large-scale retail development in the manufacturing district. Thor Equities also requested an authorization to modify waterfront public access requirements, and special permits related to signage regulations and height and setback waivers.

Brooklyn Community Board 11 and Borough President Marty Markowitz supported the proposal, but with a host of conditions. Among them, CB 11 and Markowitz requested that Thor Equities implement a local hiring and sourcing initiative, and institute traffic mitigation measures. CB 11 also requested that Thor Equities build an “eco-dock” to provide public access to the water surrounding the peninsula, while Borough President Markowitz requested that patrons of adjacent businesses be allowed to use the project’s parking garage to mitigate any loss of on-street parking.

At the Commission’s hearing, Wachtel & Masyr urban planner Ethan Goodman testified that Thor Equities had agreed to a majority of CB 11 and the borough president’s conditions. Goodman stated that the plan would not include a dock due to state waterfront permitting issues, but noted that the esplanade would “open the waterfront” to the public. As to Borough President Markowitz’s request that parking be provided for adjacent businesses, Goodman stated that it would be difficult for Thor Equities to reach such an agreement with its tenants, but added that motorists would not be charged to use the garage. No one spoke in opposition.

The Commission has until August 22, 2011 to vote on the plan.

CPC: Hearing on Brooklyn Bay Center (C 110047 ZMK – rezoning); (C 110048 ZSK – spec. perm.); (C 110049 ZSK – spec. perm.); (C 110050 ZSK – spec. perm.); (C 110051 ZSK – spec. perm.); (C 110052 ZAK – auth.); C 110053 ZCK – Chair cert.) (July 13, 2011) (Architect: GreenbergFarrow).

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