CB 2 Land Use Committee gives green light to Downtown parking changes

June 26, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Final CB 2 vote scheduled at press time

By Linda Collins
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

DOWNTOWN Brooklyn — A zoning amendment that will reduce the number of unused parking spaces in underutilized parking garages in new Downtown Brooklyn residential buildings got a green light from the Community Board 2 Land Use Committee last Wednesday.

There were two significant differences from what was voted on that night, however, and what the Department of City Planning (DCP) had proposed.

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The original amendment called for a reduction (from 40 percent to 20 percent) of the required number of parking spaces in new market-rate developments and a reduction from 20 percent to zero for new affordable housing developments.

In the favorable vote of 9-2-2, CB 2’s Land Use Committee is recommending to the CB 2 executive committee and thus to the DCP that the amendment be retroactive to include existing buildings and that developers of market rate housing who benefit from the proposed reduction be required to include affordable units in their developments.

One of the stated goals of the DCP amendment is exactly that — to encourage affordable housing development. Another is to acknowledge that most of those moving to the new Downtown Brooklyn residential towers now are coming without vehicles, leaving a high number of unoccupied parking spaces.

As an example, the DCP points to Avalon Fort Greene, the 631-unit rental tower on Flatbush Avenue Extension, where only 88 of its 252 (40 percent) required spaces are actually filled.

This was typical for most of the new towers that were studied, according to the DCP.

“Areas with such great public transportation like Downtown Brooklyn attract people without cars,” a spokesperson said, adding, “And people are moving there because of the great public transportation that’s available.”

Developers of downtown projects are generally in favor of the amendment, judging by those who spoke during the public hearing.
These included the following:
• Drew Spitler, representing the Dermot Company, developer of 29 Flatbush Ave., a 327-unit project;
• Brigitte LaBonte, speaking for Forest City Ratner Companies, developer of the recently completed 34-story DKLB Brooklyn with 369 units;
• Roger Fortune, representing the Stahl Organization, developer of the 378-unit 388 Bridge St. currently under construction; and
• Ben Tressler, project manager for Steiner NYC’s new project The Hub, a 742-unit tower to be built between Schermerhorn and Livingston streets at Flatbush Avenue.

All spoke in support of the amendment and all asked that it be retroactive.

“We went to a lot of trouble and cost to build the garage and the required 135 spaces in the lower level,” said Spitler. “And it limited the amount of retail space we could have.

Asked if the recommended amendments to the amendment could be easily incorporated,  Purnima Kapur, director of the DCP’s Brooklyn office, responded that it was possible and that the additional environmental studies could be done and her department could return to the Planning Commission with the amended amendment for approval.

“It could still be done within the allotted time period,” she said.

Also in response to a question, she said she guessed that the retroactive element could possibly affect seven or eight buildings.

In the meantime, a public hearing on the proposal will take place at Borough Hall sometime in July, she said.

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