Proposal for Trader Joe’s on Atlantic Ave. approved

South Brooklyn Savings Bank building at 130 Court St. Photo: Sam Porter.

Opponents challenged 60-foot height. On September 17, 2007, the Planning Commission approved the special permit application of Two Trees Management Co. LLC, facilitating its controversial plan to build a six-story, 60-foot tall building adjacent to the South Brooklyn Savings Bank, a 1922 building located at Atlantic Avenue and Court Street within the Cobble Hill Historic District. Overall, the development would include 31,512 sq.ft. of residential space with 37 units, and 6,865 sq.ft. of ground-floor retail including a Trader Joe’s grocery store to be located within the now-vacant bank building.

Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the new six-story building would occupy the bank’s parking lot and an adjacent lot containing a one-story office building, which Two Trees would demolish.

Two Trees’ plan required a waiver of the 50-foot height limit, and relief from rear yard, parking, and other zoning restrictions, which Two Trees sought in exchange for its plan to restore the historic bank. Landmarks approved the plan after Two Trees set back the sixth story to make it less visible from Atlantic Avenue and abandoned a plan for a stair and elevator tower linking the bank and residential building.

When the project reached the Commission, both Borough President Marty Markowitz and Community Board 6 remained opposed to the 60-foot height. Representatives from the Cobble Hill Association, the Historic Districts Council, and the Brooklyn Heights Association joined local residents and testified against Two Trees’ height waiver, warning that it would set a bad precedent and disturb the overall scale of the neighborhood.

In response, Two Trees argued that Atlantic Avenue contained buildings of similar heights, and the setback of the sixth floor would lessen any visual impact from the street. Removal of the sixth story, according to Two Trees, would eliminate five, two-bedroom units, making the plan to restore the bank “financially challenging.” Council Member Bill de Blasio testified in support, arguing that the height limit waiver was reasonable since Two Trees’ site sat on the corner of two wide streets.

The Commission approved the special permit, finding the 60- foot height to be appropriate since Atlantic Avenue is a particularly wide street with several similarly-sized buildings. According to the Commission, the modifications required by Landmarks had minimized the project’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

The City Council must vote to take review of the permit application by October 9, 2007.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: BK 6,Den’d, 37-0-1
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-1
Council:May elect to review

CPC: 130 Court Street (C 0 70156 ZSK) (Sept. 19, 2007) (Raymond Levin, for Two Trees); LPC: 130 Court Street (COFA# 07-2277) (Oct. 2, 2006). CITYADMIN

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