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 29, 2013

Zoning Issues Addressed At CB9 Meeting

The Q was encouraged to see such a large turnout for a ULURP Committee Meeting at the Community Board 9 office on Nostrand near Carroll. I counted nearly 30 people. There haven't been that many folks at a committee meeting (by my recollection) since the proposed shutting of Crown Street for a Medgar Evers greenspace.

While the pic here is not from this particular meeting,
Mike Cetera, who looks a little like the guy in front, led the meeting.
it is representative of the direct opposite experience of last night's meeting of neighborhood minds, since the conversation was frequently stimulating and led by thoughtful questions and answers from many longtime residents of the Lefferts area.

Stan and Jackie Myers were there, they of the petition that on the Lefferts Listserv elicited some rather skeptical responses. Jackie and Stan are celebrating 49 years of marriage, and they're going for the Gold folks! It was clear that they've done their homework, as Jackie came prepared with a bevy of documents that helped elucidate the response that the committee eventually drafted. Given the tenacity evident in their expression of feeling on the issue, I don't doubt that they could in fact compile "hundreds" of signatures against the 626 Flatbush project, regardless of the utility of such an effort.

In a nutshell, it would appear that community opposition to the height of the planned building at 626 is quite significant. No one at the meeting seemed to be in favor of the project as is. Whether or not there's anything to be done about this particular building remains unclear. Certainly were enough of NYC's power brokers and neighborhood elected officials engaged (de Blasio as Public Advocate cum Mayor, Adams as State Senator cum  Borough President, Tish James Council cum Public Advocate, Mathieu Eugene Council cum Council, Hakeem Jeffries (Assembly becummed Congress), Yvette Clarke (Council becummed Congress), Karim Camara (Clergy becummed Assembly) etc etc 626 could certainly be held up in bureaucratic limbo. It would seem that there is significant enough passion on the issue that such an effort could be mounted. However it's pretty late in the game, and it's probably a longshot at best. Still, given how many people I've spoken to who favor the project, had I been at this meeting only I'd judge near universal opposition to the currently planned development.

So the topic turned to current zoning in the neighborhood, and the question before the committee was how best to proceed to make changes. Some argued for an immediate request to rezone the Flatbush/Ocean corridor, while Cetera favored a District-wide effort. An intern with the CB has been asked to map the entire district, which is full of various zoning numbers and letters that could be jumbled a la alpha-numeric soup to create a vision of the neighborhood going forward. One thing is perfectly clear - the current appetite for Development in Brooklyn is reaching into the area quickly, with whole houses and buildings being razed for new projects. If the community wants to take action on how this will play out, now is clearly the time. It may be that some favor a laissez-faire approach. Their numbers were not represented last night.

Letters have been written to the NYC Planning Board requesting an immediate survey and reconsideration of zoning in the neighborhood generally. Some in attendance vowed to take their fight to elected officials.

Oh, and a dude from Planet Fitness was there saying they would be operational in the Phat Albert building by January or February. They'll have 3,000 sf on the ground floor (next to the Car Wash) and 16,000 sf on the second floor. The community seemed enthused about this development and the motion to grant permits for a "Physical Culture" facility passed unanimously. FWIW, the Physical Culture designation and needed permits grew out of concern for the rise in "massage parlors" etc in the '70s. The rep from P.F. assured us that there will be no offerings of a sensual nature permitted at their facility. P.F. is known as a no-frills center that is generally quite reasonable...from $10 a month he said! Wow. There goes that "it's too expensive" excuse.


Sean said...

I can't wait for Planet Fitness to open up. I had a membership at the one over by Fulton and it was great. But it was too inconvenient to get over there with my schedule and commute. Now I won't have that excuse either.

Anonymous said...

Whatever's in the cards, the hand has been dealt.

So, the zoning changes have been made to allow the big buildings. The small turnout shows that few people are deeply concerned about the height of new buildings.

But fear not. The new buildings will improve the neighborhood, just as they've made 4th Avenue, from Flatbush to 17th st, a far far better place.'

Anonymous said...

4th Ave wasn’t a dense, overcrowded part of Brooklyn as our neighborhood is. I’m not at all concerned with the height of new buildings but cannot understand why we need more people living here. We already have huge apartment buildings all around (along Bedford, Ocean, Caton, etc. as well as who knows how many people are in Ebbets and Patio Gardens. Buses are packed, trains are crowded, roads are full of traffic now and these buildings will make it all worse. So how exactly will these buildings improve the neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

I emailed Pearl several months back and she told me that there was going to be a district-wide zoning project. I had specifically asked her about contextual zoning as many neighborhoods have gone through this (and I know this as I am very close to someone in DCP). I think that is what neighborhoods need and our does too. Without it, the preservation of the hood will be lost. As well, there have been huge rezoning projects in the past years, and that is what should happen here. I hope CB9 gets off their butts fast and makes this happen otherwise, we'll just be picking up the pieces.

Alex said...

The nice thing about keeping things "contextual" in PLG is that doing so would allow for pretty diverse projects. We already have a bunch of 6-10 story buildings in the area, and having a few more would be fine, even if some reached 12 stories or so.

Anonymous said...

Now Timothy can finally shed some of that walrus fat that has engulfed his entire body him since the creation of this blog.


Anonymous said...

Two buildings will not turn this part of Flatbush into what 4th ave became in Park Slope. There are no more empty or non-residential lots available on Flatbush, those two are it. 4th Ave on the other hand was and still is filled with garages and industrial warehouses where developers could easily build large scale apt and condo buildings without displacing residents or expensive demolition. 626 Flatbush is a superior design and does what those developers on 4th ave didn't and that's set the building back from the sidewalk. The 4th ave buildings jut right onto the sidewalk with no ground level community or retail space. That's what Park Slope hates about those buildings on 4th more than their height.