A developer has proposed a nine story building adjacent to the train tracks on Avenue Z/Sheepshead Bay Road, near East 15th Street. The oddly-shaped 6,655-square-foot lot will jam in 101 valet parking spaces on four floors that will enter and exit near a bus stop. Worse yet, the owner is asking the Community Board to allow him to use the building’s spaces for ambulatory services in another building he owns a block away.
The developer’s proposal comes in front of Community Board 15 on Tuesday, May 25, at Kingsborough Community College. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. in the faculty dining room, and residents and commuters affected by the property owner’s plan should testify at the meeting.
The proposed building is 1501(c) Sheepshead Bay Road, currently leased out to an income tax business. The lot is a through lot, extending all the way to the storefront at 1508 Avenue Z.and takes up three lots, including neighborhood businesses like The Learning Wheel and Abe’s Frame Shoppe (a Selfhelp outreach center – which services at-risk populations – vacated a storefront there just a few months ago).
On the Sheepshead Bay Road side, the owner proposes a retail establishment and lobby for upper-level offices. Meanwhile, the Avenue Z side will serve as the entrance and exit for the four-level freight-elevator garage. The floor plans submitted to the board show the garage levels packed like sardines, with 25 to 34 cars parked as many as eight deep.
Meanwhile, the garage entrance will reduce street-side parking spaces outside the building, and will sit immediately in front of the B4, B49 and B36 bus stops. [UPDATE: The property owner is now saying the bus stop will be moved. We are awaiting confirmation.]
Because the lot is so tightly-packed, the owner envisions attended parking, meaning cars will have to line up and wait to get into the garage. And cars buried deep in the back of the building will have to wait as valets remove nearly a dozen cars, perhaps lining them up along Avenue Z, until the tight space can be navigated.
But if its proximity to a bus stop and likelihood that a slew of cars will be forced to line up along the busy Avenue Z corridor were not bad enough, the developer is asking for leeway in how he crams cars into his building.
One block away, the same landlord owns the triangular property at 1401 Sheepshead Bay Road. At this location, the owner is trying to legalize ambulatory and diagnostic services. Existing regulations require the landlord to have 77 spaces to accommodate those services. But the building only has eight.
To side skirt the law, the owner is asking the board to grant a variance that would reduce the number of required spots to 53. Eight would be in their cellar. The remaining 45 would be in the building at 1501 Avenue Z – as part of their 101.
The problem with this – other than the double-parking on either Sheepshead Bay Road or Avenue Z that an ambulatory center would invite – is that the numbers don’t add up at all. The law requires a nine story building of that size to have 101 spots dedicated to their own tenants. Between the buildings, the owner needs 177 spots. While he has directly asked for a reduction of 24 parking spaces, the plan is asking for implicit approval to reduce it by 76 spaces.
In the end, the nine story building can be built as-of-right, with the garage the way it is, so long as it fits 101 spots. His lawyer is going in front of Community Board 15 on Tuesday, May 25, only to ask permission to combine the parking of the two buildings and reduce the number of required spots. Considering the existing parking issues around the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station, any proposal that causes a reduction of parking spaces in the area is likely to affect a great number of people.
*CORRECTION: The original version of this article indicated that the lot being built upon included three existing retail locations on Avenue Z, including The Learning Wheel. This is inaccurate. The proposed building is going on the empty land – currently fenced off – between the existing building and the subway tracks. We regret any confusion this may have caused.