Save Our Sunlight: Protesters Rally Against Alloy’s Shadow-Casting Towers

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FORT GREENE – Community groups rallied outside the Brownstoner RADD Awards last Thursday (March 22) to protest Alloy Development’s 80 Flatbush project.

Protesters outside RADD Awards, March 22, 2018 (Photo courtesy of Save Our Sunlight)

Alloy was slated to receive two RADD Awards which honor real estate, architecture, design and development at Thursday’s event held at One Hanson Place. Groups gathered outside the venue to protest the proposed two-tower 80 Flatbush project’s environmental impact on its surrounding community.

80 Flatbush would consist of two office and residential towers topping out at 38 and 74 stories, featuring 900 new apartments with 200 set aside for affordable housing. Alloy Development announced this morning that the Brooklyn-based nonprofit community development corporation, Fifth Avenue Committee, will spearhead 80 Flatbush’s affordable housing component, developing and owning the project’s 200 permanently affordable units with Alloy, as well as overseeing the marketing, leasing, and operation of the affordable housing.

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The project will also include a 15,000-square-foot cultural space, 40,000-square-foot ground floor commercial/retail space, and two new schools—a new facility for the Khalil Gibran International Academy High School as well as a new 350-seat elementary school.

Via no80flatbush.wordpress.com

Along with “dwarfing and blocking the view of Brooklyn’s beloved, landmarked Williamsburg Savings Bank building,” the two proposed towers would also tax “the sanitation, safety and sewerage resources of the residential area,” and cast “enormous shadows over the neighborhood, including the only nearby green space, the Brooklyn Bear’s Rockwell Place Community Garden,” according to the group Save Our Sunlight.

The proposed 74-story tower, which is almost double the height of the Williamsburg Savings Bank building at 42 stories, is “unnecessary” and “neighborhood-destroying,” according to the group.

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

In the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Alloy Development provided with its project proposal, it states:

“The Rockwell Place Bear’s Community Garden, the BAM South Plaza at 300 Ashland Place, and Temple Square would experience significant adverse impacts as a result of the proposed actions. The proposed actions would cause these resources to receive less than four hours of direct sun. Given the duration and extent of incremental shadow, the use and character of these open spaces could be altered and the health of the vegetation found within the open spaces could be significantly affected by new project-generated shadows,” according to Save Our Sunlight’s website.

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

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 Save Our Sunlight group argues.

According to the EIS, both 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 (see the EIS, page 6-1).

“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. “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. A more detailed analysis of the plant species is required to better understand the impact.  We have reached out to the Rockwell Bear’s group in addition to NYC Parks to begin the process and look forward to working collaboratively with them in the coming months.”

The Rockwell Place Bear’s Community Garden has been an oasis at the busy intersection of  Lafayette and Flatbush Avenues since 1980. A part of the NYC Parks Department Greenthumb Garden program, volunteers grow vegetables and flowers and maintain fruit trees in the green space and host annual art exhibits and events, including summer and winter solstice celebrations.

Plaza at 300 Ashland Place in front of the site for the proposed 80 Flatbush towers (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

The community group insists it is “not anti-development,” stating that Alloy should instead build a “far more sensible 31-story, 400-foot building at 80 Flatbush,” since the neighborhood is currently zoned for a development of that size. If Alloy adheres to the currently zoning, the development “would be far more congruous with the architecture of the neighborhood” and would “also allow the garden to receive enough sunlight to sustain vegetation,” according to the group.

Temple Square at Flatbush and Schermerhorn (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

Save Our Sunlight also argues that approval of the 80 Flatbush towers would set a precedent in the area for other “out-of-scale developments to circumvent zoning restrictions.”

Since the lot at 80 Flatbush is not currently zoned for such a large development, Alloy’s proposal needs to undergo a Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) before construction can begin, the group’s website explains. Alloy’s proposal would need to be reviewed and approved by Community Board 2, Bill de Blasio, Eric Adams, the NYC City Planning Commission, and the City Council in a process that could take up to approximately seven months, the group says, urging locals to take action now.

The Community Board 2 ULURP Hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28 from 6pm to 9pm at St. Francis College, Founders Hall, 180 Remsen Street (between Clinton & Court).

You can also donate to Save Our Sunlight’s GoFundMe campaign or sign the Boerum Hill Association’s petition.

Learn more at no80flatbush. See more of BKLYNER’s coverage of 80 Flatbush here.

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