Representatives from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) were first to speak on the large-scale project Wednesday during a special CB9 land use committee meeting. Their testimony came a day after BBG launched a petition opposing the two 430-foot towers on Franklin Avenue at Montgomery Street which they say will cause a 3-hour loss of essential sunlight.
“I’m very much encouraged to see so many people interested in 960 Franklin, we’re quite worried about it,” said James Harris from BBG who called the project troubling. “And plants and flowers need a thing called natural sunlight.”
Harris estimates the rezoning will impact 800,000 to a million visitors who come to the garden.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s plant collections are under threat from a proposed 39-story building development just 150 feet from the Garden. #bbgnorezone
— Brooklyn Botanic Garden (@BrooklynBotanic) March 5, 2019
Developers Bruce Eichner of Continuum Company, LLC and Joel Bergstein of Lincoln Equities plan to develop two 39-story, mixed-use towers along Franklin Avenue between Montgomery St. and Sullivan Pl. The project would bring 1,578 units to the community, of which 50 percent would be affordable using the mayor’s Mandatory Exclusionary Housing Plan (MIH).
The meeting comes five days before the development enters the initial stages of the public review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). New York City Department of Planning will hold a scoping meeting, where the public can weigh in on the environmental impact of the project.
Richard Bear of the Borough President’s office was there to guide attendees through the environmental analysis process and suggested residents should raise issues as to how the plan will impact transportation, parking, waste, open space, sanitation and shadowing.
Some experts spoke to the diminishing sunlight hours the towers could impose.
Shadows from the proposed development are going to affect the main pavilion and greenhouse, as well as the children’s garden [of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden], said Prof. Brent Porter, who added, in winter months those areas won’t get sunlight until around 11:00 am.
At one point the conversation in the room turned to the role of City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who has in the past approved other controversial rezoning projects, including the Bedford-Armory plan and the recent Franklin Avenue Rezoning.
“I think it’s up to us as a community to like bang down the door, essentially, and like make her actually do her effin job,” said Virginia Bechtold of Cumbo.
Recently, Councilmembers Justin Brannan and Carlos Menchaca intervened on behalf of ULURP plans in their communities, with Brannan negotiating a deal with developers for new affordable housing rather than a hotel and Menchaca pushing back on a new development plan in Industry City.
Alicia Boyd of the Movement To Protect the People (MTOPP), who has famously opposed developing projects in the area, had some advice for those who are attending the scoping meeting.
“You know this is a very dense topic and if we just keep it simple it’s not that complicated,” said Boyd.
March 2019 ULURP/Land Use Committee Meeting
Posted by Community Board 9 Brooklyn on Wednesday, March 6, 2019
The hearing is Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at the New York City Department of City Planning, City Planning Commission Hearing Room, 120 Broadway, Concourse Level, New York, New York, 10271. The meeting will begin at 1:00 PM.
Written comments will be accepted by the lead agency until the close of business on Monday, March 25, 2019. DCP will be setting up a dedicated email address to be posted on the DCP website scoping page. The link will go live beginning March 12 and will remain available on the DCP website until the public comment period ends at the end of the day on Monday, March 25.