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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Empire Boulevard Is Developing, Like It Or Not

How many of you have seen the news that the lot on the NE corner of Empire and Bedford is going to be...drum roll...another Self-Storage Building! We've got more storage space on Empire now than in ALL of Hackensack and Elizabeth!
Bring Your Architect and Your Own Zoning Variance Expeditor

More remarkably, as pointed out by Mr. No-Sleep-Til-Brooklynian Mike F. WhyNot, the nightclub The Buzz will soon be playing its last dancehall jam, because the 16,000 square feet that it sits on is for sale for a staggering $10,000,000, or more thane $600 s/f. As Mike points out, by sitting on more than one zoning slab it might be a shoe-in for a variance, in which case all this nonsense at CB9 becomes monstrously moot. Will MTOPP be able to count on Eric Adams to save them? Not now that they've created an enemy for life in the BP slot, and who knows, next Mayor in 2019?

Mike estimates they could go 13 stories as is. The residential variance could come with incentives to build some affordable, so, given Cumbo/Adams/deBlasio's stated goals of more affordable units, we could end up with 20 or even 30 percent more height. Won't get as tall as Ebbets though, which along with Tivoli towers, will likely continue to dominate the skyline, regardless of any rezoning efforts. Still, this is a predictable turn of events, and suggests that if the elected officials want to see some true affordable housing get built, they're going to have to make it happen over some (very vocal) opposition. Granted, this can all disappear in a heartbeat with a change in the financial world. But for now, the very best chance to build affordability into the development equation is passing us by. I'd never in my wildest dreams imagined that a diverse coalition would conspire to kill reasoned and considered growth with maximum affordable set-asides.

Even yesterday, MTOPP was sending out emails talking all about "height." Since when has a couple stories here or there even been THE POINT? We, the reasonable people, wanted 626 to be lower, not to go away. That was a PARKING LOT for gods sakes. And we certainly didn't want the 50 or so affordable units to go away! We want seniors and low income working people to have a place to live, but we don't want the City to plan for it? I'm beginning to think that Alicia is ONLY about density, or her own ego. The negative nellies seem blithely unaware that they're getting the increased density anyway, without an affordable component. Plus, while most concerned homeowners elsewhere actually WANT contextual zoning designations, apparently here we do NOT. Because of some ridiculous planning consultant renegades who are convincing our most gullible neighbors that there is another way. There is no other way than to sit down and discuss, and get elected officials on our side, whatever side that is. Who knows? It seems to change every day.

Let's be super clear about something. There is NOTHING stopping development as-of-right. There is NOTHING preventing a landowner from requesting variances or doing their own planning studies. There is NOTHING that sets height limits, and this idea that developers won't be able to acquire enough land to build tall is ridiculous. Who has the money and the connections? Who has the muscle and the lawyers and history on their side? Who is actually crunching numbers and seeing what will and won't be profitable? Until the City starts buying and creating its own housing (a la its relationship with CAMBA, but for regular folks), we are stuck in a rut, and the NIMBYists are trying to sell a broken idea about how the forces of capitalism can be stopped in their tracks.

Come to think of it, without that variance they could do a pretty tall hotel. Keep the name. Call it "The Buzz." And why not? It's right on the Garden and Prospect Park. And from the trendy roof bar rich German Tourists could look down at those gorgeous storage facilities and laugh at the schlocky use of a grandly named boulevard. But the many former residents of Lefferts and Crown Heights will at least have a place to put their stuff until they hear about the affordable housing Cleveland, where they actually build the stuff.

Can't make it up. Can only live it.


Alex said...

Oh the irony.

CC has shared with me the perspective that we'll be in a better position if we do our own study rather than fight a DCP proposal that we do not like. I don't think any proposal from DCP could be worse than what we've got right now, no?

So, yes, in my opinion it would be better to fight (negotiate?) with DCP than to lay down and let developers run amok with variances, which do not require community approval.

Holiday Inn Express or bust!

Ernie Ern said...

Wait - WHAT?! The NE corner of Empire and Bedford (former gas station I believe) is going to be ANOTHER dreadful storage facility?! Do you have a link with details? We don't need any more of those!!!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Not a link, Ernie. I found out the old-fashioned way. I walked by it. There's a rendering up now, with a description.

Anonymous said...

Re: the new storage facility... The best part is that it will rise 60 feet straight up from the sidewalk, so it's the equivalent of a 6- or 7-story residential building, only boxier, devoid of architectural detail and windowless. But I suppose there are some residents of Sterling Street who think that is good news.

Ernie Ern said...

F$%K me!

MikeF said...

Whoa! You mean that ways of learning things that existed before the internet continue to exist?

Anonymous said...

Ernie Ern, those who read the Crown Heights/PLG board over at Brooklynian found out about the site of the former gas station a while back.

Anonymous said...

A 6 story storage building is so much worse to look at than a 12-20 story residential building. Fact, not opinion at this point.

Anonymous said...

Storage is a step up from parking lots- and done for the same reason. A step in the development chain- easy enough to peel off the siding, replace it with glass and make it condos or offices.

roxv said...

is a storage building really that much of a step up? who ever heard of condo conversions from a NEW storage facility? whouldn't a developer rather seek out something easier/smaller to tear down and therefore cheaper

Clarkson FlatBed said...

An 8' x 10' room without windows at $250 a month sounds about right for the location. I think there's even a bathroom just down the hall. Who needs to convert?