City Council member raises concerns about effects of rezoning on adjacent stables. On September 5, 2018, the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a hearing on an application by developer, 57 Caton Partners, LLC, to rezone 57 Caton Place in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn. The developer is requesting a zoning map amendment and zoning text amendments to facilitate the development of a new nine-story, mixed-use building.The new building would be approximately 95 feet tall, with approximately 107 residential units, 27 of which will be affordable, and approximately 10,000 square feet of ground floor local retail or community facility space on Caton Place. The building would include below-ground off-street parking for approximately 74 cars as well as a 60-foot rear yard equivalent between two residential wings.
The developer is seeking to change the current zoning from a commercial district, which allows only commercial uses, to a residential district with commercial uses on the ground floors. The proposed zoning map amendment would be an eastward extension of the existing R7A zoning in the area. R7A districts are medium-density residential districts allowing for a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 4.0 or an FAR of 4.6, if the area is mapped as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and a 90-foot height limit. The requirement for off-street parking is 50 percent of all dwelling units, except for income-restricted housing units.
To provide the affordable units, the developer has chosen MIH Option 1, which typically requires that 25 percent of the units be made affordable. In order to provide deeper levels of affordability, the developer proposes to set aside ten percent of the units to households earning 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), ten percent to households earning 50 percent of the AMI, and five percent to households earning 120 percent of the AMI.
The development site is located within a Special Ocean Parkway District, which encompasses a band of blocks east and west of Ocean Parkway between Prospect Park and Brighton Beach. This Special District was established in 1977 for the purposes of preserving the historic intent and park-like character of Ocean Parkway as a connection between Prospect Park and the Atlantic Ocean. The area is well served by public transit via the F and G subway lines and the neighborhood around the rezoning area is predominantly developed with residential and community facility uses.
On May 16, 2018, the Brooklyn Community Board 7 voted in favor of approving the application (26-0), with one abstention. The Community Board proposed several conditions to include: that the ground floor retail uses are community-focused; that project designs are considerate of accessibility and accommodations to seniors and persons with mobility, vision or hearing impairments; that developer commit to improving the pedestrian bridge plaza at East 8th Street and Ocean Parkway including new lighting, paving, and other upkeep; that developer agree to maintenance and support of the streetscape and safety improvements related to the horse path from Kensington Stables to Park Circle; and that developer encourage local residents to use its garage for vehicle parking through monthly discounts and provide facilities for bike storage and charging stations for low emission and electric vehicles. Community Board also urged the Borough President, City Planning Commission and City Council to consider offering only certain MIH options to the applicant so as to create deep affordability across income bands.
On June 22, 2018, Borough President Eric Adams issued a recommendation of approval of the application. The Borough President proposed the following conditions: that the applicant engage in negotiations with the new owner of neighboring Kensington Stables to achieve construction of new horse stables on a portion of Ocean Parkway; a recommendation to engage the Department of Education to put its commercial space to use as a universal pre-Kindergarten; utilize a local nonprofit to play a role in promoting and marketing the affordable housing units;; to retain Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors, especially those that are designated locally-owned business enterprises; and that the developer should commit to building a service workforce that is recruited from the local population and paid prevailing wages with appropriate benefits.
On July 11, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a hearing on the application. CPC found that the requested zoning text and map amendments were appropriate.
On August 8, 2018 the CPC issued its declaration of approval, noting that this project would facilitate redevelopment of an underutilized warehouse currently existing on the property, thereby facilitating development consistent with the surrounding uses, while also preserving parkland. CPC also noted a desired collaboration between the applicant and the new owners of the adjacent Kensington Stables to work with the City Council as to not disrupt that property during the construction of the site and to ensure that the end-project will be built in consideration of the needs of the stables so as to preserve it as the staple of the community it has been for 150 years.
During the City Council Subcommittee hearing, Council Member Brad Lander expressed that one of the most prominent concerns relates to the effects that the development will have on the neighboring Kensington Stables. Council Member Lander is concerned that this development will put the stables at a risk of being displaced by future residential development and the interference that will result from construction of the project and new influx of pedestrians and tenants.
The developer has addressed some of these concerns, such as by promising to place the parking garage entrance on the opposite side of the development in order to minimize interference and expressed an understanding of the importance of the stables to the community. Despite the developer’s expressed willingness to work with the City Council and the stables owner, Council Member Lander stated that this was not enough to ensure the kind of stability and preservation of the stables that the community is seeking.
The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will vote on the application at an upcoming hearing. If approved, the application will be sent to the Land Use Committee for approval.
CC: 57 Caton Place Rezoning (C 170213 ZMK, N 170214 ZRK) (September 5, 2018)
By: Viktoriya Gray (Viktoriya is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018)