HPD claimed site’s former railway use complicated development of seventeen apartment buildings. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development selected the Southern Brooklyn Community Organization to build seventeen, four-story affordable housing buildings on two narrow City-owned parcels on 37th Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn. The block-long parcels are separated by 13th Avenue and were once occupied by the South Brooklyn Railroad and the elevated BMT Culver Shuttle line. The parcel west of 13th Avenue would be developed with nine buildings and a parking lot, and the parcel on the east side of the avenue would be developed with eight buildings and accessory parking spaces.
The City in November 2010 rezoned the project site from M2-1 to M1-2/R6A as part of the Department of City Planning and HPD’s broader Culver El rezoning. 7 CityLand 154 (Nov. 15, 2010). HPD sought BSA variances because the project would violate the zoning resolution’s rearyard requirements and would not provide enough space between windows and lot lines.
At BSA, HPD claimed that the project site’s shallow depth of 50 feet and former railroad use would constrain an economically viable complying development. HPD argued that the narrow floor plates of a complying development would not satisfy HPD’s affordable housing initiative needs. HPD pointed out that the majority of the lots in the surrounding area have depths ranging from 80 to 100 feet. Brooklyn Community Board 12 supported the project and recommended approval of the variances.
BSA granted the variances, finding that the site’s unique physical conditions considered together with HPD’s programmatic needs created a hardship in developing the site in compliance with the applicable zoning regulations.