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Condos to Replace Affordable Housing by Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, City Planning Commission, affordable housing, market-rate condominiums.

The proposed 34-story towers would have blocked sunlight from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (rendering by Hill West Architects).

Aug. 23, 2021

The City Planning Commission will vote to disapprove the controversial 34-story apartment tower in Crown Heights that threatens to block the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s sunlight, Brooklyn Paper reports. 

During a public meeting, commission chair Marisa Lago reiterated concerns about the size of the development and the risk it poses to the horticultural museum — as the garden’s leadership claims the building would block out much-needed sunlight and destroy some of the local plant life. “In light of these land-use and environmental concerns, as well as the commission’s concerns and the public testimony that we heard, the department intends to prepare for the commission a report in which the commission will disapprove the application,” Lago said, adding that the proposed project was “grossly out of scale” and “inappropriate for this location.”  

The developer behind the project, Continuum Company, proposed the 34-story multi-tower development at 960 Franklin Ave. near Montgomery Street, one block from the Botanic Gardens. The project met with fierce resistance even though Continuum planned to make 789 of the 1,578 rental apartments affordable. If it is not granted the land use change, Continuum has said it plans to build an as-of-right development with over 500 market-rate condominiums.

In a public-relations campaign against supporters of the Botanic Garden, the developer derided them as rich people unconcerned with the housing shortage gripping New York. “NYC is facing a housing shortage and we can’t let out-of-touch limousine liberal elitists dictate where working families live,” read a sponsored post by the group in a newsletter from City & State Magazine.

The City Planning Commission’s review is one of the last steps the project faces as it moves through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process. Unlike community boards and the borough president, both of which have offered advisory rejections of the proposal, the commission’s vote is not advisory, and it effectively signals the end of the line for the developer's application. The commission is often derided as a rubber-stamp body that's on the side of developers. Not this time.

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