BAY RIDGE — A developer looking to build a hotel in Bay Ridge last year revised his plans following community pushback and some coaxing from the local city councilman.
Instead, Ridgeites can expect a 9-story, mixed-use building on the site of the controversial vacant lot at 9114 – 9116 Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. The 95-foot structure will include ground floor commercial space and approximately 45 residential units, of which, more than half will be affordable, in what’s dubbed the 5th Avenue Rezoning plan.
The development portion includes 38,813 square feet of residential space and 9,682 square feet of commercial space.
The plan comes after months of negotiations between developer Ankit Mehta and City Councilman Justin Brannan. The two came to the table after last year’s protests, led by ousted State Senator Marty Golden, suggested the planned 63-room hotel would eventually shelter the homeless — sentiments likely stoked by the storied past of the Prince Hotel.
“I’ve found that some politicians like to have a big rally, work everyone up into a lather and then walk away,” said Brannan, often referencing Golden’s tactics as “fear-mongering.” “That’s not my style. I like to actually get things done.”
The lot, located across the street from P.S./I.S. 104, is currently zoned for commercial use which could accommodate a hotel. Mehta first filed plans for the hotel with the Department of Buildings in March 2018. All but one permit for construction equipment were denied.
“For many reasons, the community was in almost unanimous agreement that this was not an ideal location for a hotel,” said Brannan. “So after all the yelling, screaming and dog-whistling died down, I sat with the developer and worked to find a way for him to build something that the community actually needed.”
The developer must now go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) process to rezone the site. Mehta applied to rezone a C8-2 (typical of commercial and manufacturing) zoning district to an R7A/C2-4, which would allow for residential development.
The mix of 45 units will consist of 7 studios, 32 one-bedroom and 6 two-bedroom apartments. Developers chose options 1 and 2 of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) plan, “to provide maximum flexibility,” according to planning documents. MIH mandates developers to set aside a certain amount of affordable units in exchange to build more densely.
Twenty-five percent of affordable units are reserved for applicants earning 60 and 40 percent of the area median income (AMI), under Option 1 of the city’s MHI plan. Thirty percent of the affordable units are reserved for applicants earning 80 percent of the AMI under Option 2.
The developer also owns the swath of land next to the development at 411 92 Street.
The development project falls within the neighborhood’s Special Bay Ridge District. The area was first rezoned in 1978 to preserve the existing scale and character of the 249-block district. In 2015, New York City Planning approved a second rezoning to allow for apartment building construction with ground floor retail, much like the 5th Avenue Rezoning plan.
Developers anticipate a 2022 completion date. The plan goes before Community Board 10 within the coming 60 days. Then the Borough President and city planning commission weigh in with recommendations. Ultimately, Brannan will make the final decision of whether to convince his colleagues in the City Council to vote in favor of the project—a gesture he’s OK’d as long as the developer is “serving the interests of the community.”
“Dr. Mehta has proven to be a man of his word and wants to do the right thing by the community,” said Brannan.