Variance for Red Hook condos sent back to BSA

BSA’s reliance on a single-use feasibility study deemed insufficient. In 2003, BSA granted a variance to 160 Imlay Street Real Estate LLC to convert a vacant, 220,000-square-foot Red Hook industrial building into 150 luxury residential condominiums with ground floor retail. When members of the Red Hook- Gowanus Chamber of Commerce filed an article 78 petition challenging the variance, the City asked the court to dismiss the proceeding since the Chamber failed to add Imlay as a party. After the issue was appealed up to the Court of Appeals and sent back to the trial court, Justice Yvonne Lewis settled the issue by ruling in April 2006 that the case could continue without Imlay. 2 CityLand 76 (June 15, 2005); 3 CityLand 64 (May 15, 2006).

On June 2, 2006, Justice Lewis vacated the variance, finding that BSA based its decision on insufficient evidence with respect to one finding. The court ruled that variance applicants must submit studies of several as-of-right uses showing whether or not a permitted use will yield a reasonable economic return. Since the record showed that Imlay submitted only one analysis of a single manufacturing use, the court found BSA’s decision to be arbitrary and capricious in relation to the feasibility finding and sent it back to BSA. The court rejected the Chamber’s remaining arguments, finding that Imlay met the four other findings needed for a variance. The court also found no merit to the Chamber’s allegation that Imlay’s $100,000 donation to the Bloomberg administration’s Olympic bid influenced BSA’s vote.

In re Red Hook-Gowanus Chamber of Commerce v. BSA, 2006 Slip Op 51064U, June 2, 2006 (Kings Cty.Sup.Ct.) (Lewis, J.).


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