Rezoning Application Will Expand Marcus Garvey Village

Rendering of Marcus Garvey Expansion. Image Credit: L+M Development/CPC

The expansion will add 724 affordable units, retail, and community space along Livonia Avenue. On September 5, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on a rezoning application for an extension of the Marcus Garvey Village in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Marcus Garvey Village is generally bounded by Blake Avenue to the north, Newport Street to the south, Rockaway Avenue to the east, and Thomas S. Boyland Street to the west.

Currently, there are 625 affordable units in Marcus Garvey Village. The expansion will add seven new buildings of seven to nine stories on presently underused parking lots within the existing Village boundaries. Five buildings will be on Livonia Avenue, and another two buildings will be on Chester Street. There will be 724 new affordable units with 616,000 residential square feet and 141,000 commercial and community square feet. The retail space will run along Livonia Avenue under the elevated 3 train tracks.

The expansion will provide 80 percent of the units below 60 percent AMI and between 60 and 80 percent AMI for the remaining 20 percent of the units. The rent ranges will be $215 to $837 for a studio; $283 to $1,058 for a one-bedroom apartment; $425 to $1,280 for a two-bedroom apartment and $512 to $1,472 for a three-bedroom apartment. According to the presentation by L+M Development, the affordability is similar to that of the existing Marcus Garvey Village. The project will also maximize the Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Richard Lobel of Sheldon Lobel PC presented the application on behalf of the joint applicants, Brownsville Livonia Associates LLC, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Brownsville Livonia Associates LLC is an affiliate of L+M Development Partners, who acquired the existing Marcus Garvey buildings in 2014 and renovated the entire complex in 2016. The architects on the project are Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP. Mark Ginsberg spoke as well on behalf of the project at the meeting.

The application will dispose of the city-owned parking lots to an unnamed developer for the construction of the new residences, change the residential zoning for the property to account for a higher maximum floor area ratio (FAR) and to add some commercial ground floor uses along Livonia Avenue. The rezoning application will change the current R6 district to an R7-2 district with C2-4 overlays. Under an R6 district, the FAR is 3.0 on a wide street and 2.2 on a narrow street. Under an R7-2 district, the maximum FAR is 4.0 for wide streets and 3.44 on narrow streets. Under the present zoning, the building could be a maximum of 70 feet tall on a wide street and 55 feet on a narrow street. Under the rezoning, the building can be a maximum 80 feet tall on a wide street and 75 feet tall on a narrow street. The addition of the commercial zoning overlay would add ground floor commercial space along Livonia Avenue. Part of the project area will be rezoned as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Area.

The team applied for a special permit to waive the existing the 294 required accessory off-street parking spaces.

In connection to the project, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services applied for the City to acquire property on Bristol Street between Blake Avenue and Dumont Avenue for use as a community garden.

Commissioner Cheryl Cohen Effron asked about concerns for the loss of parking. Lisa Gomez of L+M Development said the team met with Brooklyn Community Board 16 and the Borough President. The team is evaluating adding parking and is currently studying the community needs for parking.

Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin asked about the proposed programming for the community and commercial space. Gomez said the team had given themselves the “most flexibility in the unit count.” Gomez stated that they were working with service providers to the Marcus Garvey Village to expand on those services. Some service providers and organizations named included Grand Street Settlement, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, Children of Promise, several day care providers, and the Brownsville Community Justice Center. However, there were no retailers or organizations confirmed for the retail and community space at this stage of the project.

Commissioner Larisa Ortiz asked about how the development team assessed the retail market needs of the area. Gomez said that some of the existing retailers were their retailers. L+M Development’s retail team found that the area needed supermarkets and banking institutions. The team is working with the Community Board to determine other kinds of retailers and services desired by the community.

Clovis Thorn, the Director of Development and Communications at Grand Street Settlement, spoke in support of the project. Grant Street Settlement currently provides afterschool, and summer camp programs for families in Marcus Garvey Village and the organization supports the expansion of community facilities in this project.

Cyrus Smith, of Brownsville Think Tank Matters, also spoke in support of this project. Brownsville Think Tank Matters receives financial support from L+M Development to run public safety initiatives within Marcus Garvey Village. The organization supports the project because of the expansion of community resources, the rise of community safety with the removal of the underused parking lots, and the overall improvement in the quality of life for residents.

Richard Buchannan, a representative from 32BJ SEIU, stated that the union was concerned over the lack of commitment that the wages for the service workers in the new buildings will be sufficient to sustain families. He stated that 32BJ is in support of the expansion of affordable housing but wanted to ensure that the service workers there have livable wages.

There were no speakers in opposition.

If approved, the estimated project completion date is 2024.


CPC: Marcus Garvey Village (C 180485 HAK, C180486 PCK, N 180487 ZRK, C 180488 ZSK, C 180489 ZMK, C 180490 ZSK) (September 5, 2018)


By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)


4 thoughts on “Rezoning Application Will Expand Marcus Garvey Village

  1. This article was very helpful. I am very interested in receiving application. Kindly send information on how to get one

    Thank you

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