The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Two Things

Item one, regarding 626 Flatbush, the hot-button topic of the nabe recently...

Back in 2008 a letter was drafted to the Planning Commission to downzone Flatbush and Ocean between Empire and Parkside. That would have limited future building in the 'hood. So those who say their protest of the proposed glass building on Lincoln Road was successful, it was...but only to a point. After CB9 sent it, no one followed up. The request was never acted on. Had it been, 626 never would have happened at 23 stories. That's right folks. I don't know who was leading the charge, but perhaps due to the fact that the Glass Cathedral was never built made folks assumed things had changed. There was that messy little affair called by some the Great Recession...

So now, there will be a vote coming up to resend the letter, because it was never given the proper review and back-and-forth. You read that correctly. Resend. There was no need for PLGNA or any other group to pen the letter, because it had already been written. The resend WILL however be put to a vote to ascertain community sentiment on the matter five years on.

That is just so weird I can hardly believe it, except to say that's what happens when you don't have effective...and here's that word again, leadership.

Itemo Numero Dos, we now have 9 people signed and fingerprinted to ride around in those C.O.P. cars. Please join! The NE part of the precinct has a program with 31 people! C'mon now, if the Lubovitchers can handle that many, the Leffertsonians ought to be able to get to 15!!

Look for the C.O.P. cars to start rolling near the end of this or beginning of next year. Hey, those Priuses aren't gonna drive themselves!


Anonymous said...

so would resending the letter have any effect on the 626 project as planned? Or does the fact that they filed plans as of right mean that they're in the clear to build 23 stories, regardless of what the community says?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

The letter was meant to begin a process. That process was to consider changing the zoning from R7 to R6. There are many steps to that process, and that was step one. We're basically still at step one. Therefore, no changes have been made. It's a remarkable story of a missed opportunity for the neighborhood to use a simple process to define its own future.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who drafted that letter and was in charge of its sending (or nonsending) when none of the people weighing in here in support of downzoning even knew about it? It's strange. Also how much downzoning are they asking for, can we find out before there is any further discussion of it? Because I don't know where I'd stand not knowing that. I am pro-development but would support capping heights at 17 stories which is what Patio Gardens is right now. But not allowing anything higher than 4 or 6 stories or something like that, that's too extreme for me to support. It's not that everything is about what I think, hardly, I'm just giving myself as an example of what the middle might look like on the issue. Which may be a typical stance for a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Also to address the claim on another thread Patio Gardens is not 17 stories tall - I've been inside the building many times to a friend's top floor apartment and it's on the 17th floor. That's what the button says right there in the elevator, 17.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon: Not sure who you are, and I don't know who you are refering to when you say no on in support of downzoning knew about it. Plenty of people knew about it! So...who are you and who are you representing?

The letter came from the Community Board. That's who is resending it.

You can find out more about zoning on the City's site. Zoning is not strictly a matter of height. You can build taller if you set your building back from the street (witness Patio Gardens) and if you have a bigger footprint (witness Patio Gardens) or if you layer the building like a cake, but it's all about FAR (which allows different heights per area for each zoning number).

The letter describes downzoning one notch from 7 to 6 and would mean that Hudson wouldn't have been able to build 23 stories. I don't know exactly how tall...probably around Patio's height, but I'm not a planner, architect or developer so I couldn't say exactly.

My block is R6, and what that means generally is a height of 5 or 6 stories. Again, the 6 of the zone number and the number of stories is coincidentally similar, leading many folks to conflate the two. (like R2 to mean 2 stories for instance).

peter said...

Changing the zoning from R7 (or technically, "R7-1") to R6 would NOT prevent the possibility of a 23 story building. There is no height limit in R6 zoning. R6 allows less floor area to be built, but it doesn't have a height limit. If you have a large enough lot, you could still build a 23-story building with R6 zoning.

I thought the point of this letter was to ask for contextual zoning on Flatbush. If that is the case, there are several zoning designations that permit 6-story buildings similar to the older buildings on Flatbush. For instance there is an R7A zoning designation that has a maximum height limit of 80 feet (about 8 stories with setbacks on the upper floors).

Anyway I would sign on to such a letter IF, instead of asking for reactive down-zoning in response to a single project that a minority of people don't like, it asked for a comprehensive review and revision of the current zoning in CB9. City Planning did that for CB14 a few years ago (see here: and did a big chunk of CB8 (see here: so the community board should be telling City Planning that it's our turn.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Peter: You can't build a building of any height in R6 around here. You'd need a gigantic lot and set it way way back to build above Patio Gardens height. I have some maximized buildings in my neck of the woods and they don't top 10 stories. Remember you need the sky plane too. Theoretically you're right; in practice, not very probable.

I recently wrote a post on how we should copy CB8's process. I agree completely about contextual zoning being the goal. I look forward to adding that emphasis to the process.

Please, though (and this is a message to all) let's stop pretending we know what a majority or minority of people think on the issue. No poll or vote has been taken. It just makes people mad when you do that. Let's keep it to our own opinions, or say "a majority of my friends" or something like that. I've heard from tons of folks on both sides, and I have no clue which side holds a majority.

I will tell you this. I have yet to hear from anyone who is (maybe "was" is the right term now that it's happening) opposed to building at 626 completely. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't heard a peep. So as long as we're talking about a matter of a few extra stories of height, maybe we can keep in mind that we're generally on the same page.

Regardless of which opinion you have, I think you can agree that it is a big change (good or bad!) to the character of Flatbush to build that high. You may favor such a change, or be horrified by it. But no one can possibly argue that the character and dare I say demographics will change the minute it's completed.