BOERUM HILL – After a mixed-use development including two towers received approval to rise on the border of Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, residents of the adjacent low-rise neighborhood are taking the developer and the city to court in an effort to stop the project from moving forward.
The 400 & 500 State Street Block Association is suing in hopes of annulling the 2018 decision to rezone 80 Flatbush, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle first reported. The members of the association live along the southern edge of the project in four-story brownstones. They argue in their Notice of Petition dated January 2019 and filed against the City of New York, the NYC Planning Commission, New York City Council, the NYC Educational Construction Fund, and 80 Flatbush Avenue, LLC (Alloy Development) that the City Council Zoning Resolution is “arbitrary, capricious and violative of law, constituting unconstitutionally impermissible ‘spot zoning.'”
“80 Flatbush is the name of the development in progress that will greatly affect our quality of life in Boerum Hill and surrounding neighborhoods. It is directly adjacent to the 400 and 500 blocks of State St,” the association’s website states. “State St. will be turned into a back alley and an after though – the backend of a development so big, it belongs in downtown Manhattan, not a residential neighborhood.”
Alloy Development plans to erect a five-building project, 80 Flatbush, on the block bounded by Flatbush Avenue, State Street, 3rd Avenue, and Schermerhorn Street. Last September, the City Council approved Alloy’s request to rezone the project site, allowing the two towers to rise higher than previously permitted.
Plans for 80 Flatbush originally included 18 FAR (floor area ratio) with one tower proposed for 986 feet and another for 840 feet. The project’s FAR was ultimately reduced to 15.75, eliminating 130,000 square feet from the project. The height of the taller tower was cut from 986 feet to 840 while the other was reduced from 561 feet to 510. The total number of apartments in the project was decreased from 900 units to 870, including 200 units of affordable housing.
80 Flatbush will also include two schools (a new home for the Khalil Gibran International Academy as well as a new elementary school), 15,000 square feet in cultural space, and 40,000 square feet in ground-floor commercial/retail space. Locals opposed to 80 Flatbush argued that the project is out-of-scale for the neighborhood, would increase congestion, and would block the sun at nearby public spaces.
As part of the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process, Brooklyn Community Board 2 voted against 80 Flatbush and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recommended that the taller tower’s bulk and height be capped at 600 feet, one-third less than the proposed height for the tower. Both Adams’ and the community board’s recommendations were advisory only.
A memorandum filed by the 400 & 500 State Street Block Association dated June 27, 2019 reads, “This action challenges the constitutionality of an unprecedented spot upzoning of one discreet block ’80 Flatbush Avenue’ located at the legislatively designed buffer between downtown Brooklyn and the residential community of Boerum Hill. This special block was designated as a buffer in 2004 by the City of New York as part of the Special Downtown Brooklyn Zoning District (SDBD). The destruction of this buffer for profit constituted unlawful and constitutionally impermissible Spot Zoning.”
“Illegal contract zoning occurred when the City Respondents made a deal with the
Developer Respondent, a private company, to change the zoning at the 80 Flatbush site, to allow the Developer Respondent to build a luxury housing skyscraper in a single family home, low-density area, in consideration for the Developer Respondent’s promise to build schools and a negligible amount of affordable housing. Indeed, what occurred here was not zoning, it was legislative action, bought and sold,” the memorandum states.
“It’s a shame that a small handful of wealthy homeowners are making a last-ditch effort to derail a project that will deliver so many public benefits,” a spokesperson from Alloy told Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “80 Flatbush went through an exhaustive public review process that included more than 120 community stakeholder meetings, received overwhelming support from the City Planning Commission and the City Council, and has broad support in the neighborhood and citywide,” the spokesperson added.
Learn more about the case against 80 Flatbush at 400500statest.com.