Rockwell Place Garden Celebrates Solstice As Looming Towers Threaten

Rockwell Place Garden Celebrates Solstice As Looming Towers Threaten

FORT GREENE – Members of the Brooklyn Bear’s Rockwell Place Community Garden will host their annual Summer Solstice Celebration on Thursday despite fears of a “serious threat to the Garden’s future.”

Brooklyn Bear’s Rockwell Place Community Garden at Lafayette & Flatbush (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

The volunteer gardeners are staunch protesters against Alloy Development’s planned 80 Flatbush mixed-use development which would cast shadows over the adjacent green space located at Rockwell Place, Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues. The 80 Flatbush project, currently in the ULURP process, would consist of two office and residential towers topping out at 38 and 74 stories.

Alloy has requested that the site be rezoned, increasing the FAR (floor-area ratio) from  6.5 to 18. This would allow the development to rise much higher than existing zoning allows and tower above nearby buildings.

If approved the taller building would stand 986 feet high. Garden members say the towers would cause their green space to receive less than four hours of direct sunlight a day. “Four or fewer hours of sunlight would have a negative impact on the plants and trees in the community garden, hindering the growth of flowers and vegetation,” the group Save Our Sunlight argued in March. Save Our Sunlight was launched by members of the Rockwell Place Community Garden and joined by the Boerum Hill Association as well as Fort Greene residents.

“The Garden’s role as an inviting oasis in the city will be largely eliminated with the disappearance of the tulips, roses, lilies, daisies, green grapes, fig, apple and pear trees, and other species that now populate the space,” Garden coordinators wrote in a recent release.

Brooklyn Bear’s Rockwell Place Community Garden at Lafayette & Flatbush (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Alloy Development provided with its 80 Flatbush proposal, two neighboring public spaces—the Plaza at 300 Ashland Place and Temple Square—would receive less than four hours of direct sunlight while portions of the garden would receive less than 6 hours of direct sunlight.

“We took the most conservative approach when analyzing the Rockwell Bear’s Garden in the EIS to determine if the plants were impacted once 80 Flatbush is completed,” a spokesperson for Alloy told BKLYNER in March following a protest Save Our Sunlight staged at an awards ceremony where Alloy was being honored. “Plants typically need a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sunlight, depending on the species. The EIS found that in all seasons, the garden would receive at least four hours of sunlight and in certain seasons, as much as nine hours.”

In May, Brooklyn Community Board 2 voted almost unanimously against the project. The NYC Planning Commission held a hearing on 80 Flatbush last Wednesday as part of the ULURP process. Supporters of the project outweighed the opponents 3 to 1 at the hearing.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams released his advisory recommendations on the project last Friday, requesting that the project be reduced to 600 feet tall, among other conditions. The NYC Planning Commission will review the project before the New York City Council votes on it.

“Owned by the NYC Parks Department, the Rockwell Place Garden has been designed to be an on-going spot for gardening experience, respite, community sharing and neighborhood-building meant to last for generations,” the Community Garden’s release states. “All that can end in short order in the shadow of opportunistic real estate development.”

Tomorrow’s summer solstice festivities will include music, readings, and refreshments for neighbors and friends of the Garden. All are welcome.

Rockwell Place Bear’s Community Garden Solstice Celebration
Thursday, June 21, 6pm to 9pm
104 Rockwell Place, at Lafayette & Flatbush Avenues (across from the BAM sign)

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