Boerum Hill

Councilmember Levin will seek tweaks to 80 Flatbush development plan

August 15, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The tallest building in this rendering is a supertall skyscraper that's part of the proposed 80 Flatbush development. Rendering by Alloy Development/Luxigon

The City Councilmember whose opinion about the proposed 80 Flatbush development matters most is not ready to approve the project in its current form.

“I would like a development that meets the needs of the city and is acceptable to the community,” Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents Boerum Hill, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.

He spoke out after a City Council hearing about 80 Flatbush’s design — which calls for the construction of a skyscraper as tall as the Chrysler Building in low-rise Boerum Hill.

“I do not want to see a project that does not have the support of the community,” Levin told the Eagle.

There is strong community opposition to Alloy Development’s proposed 1.1 million-square-foot 80 Flatbush Ave. project, as testimony at the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises hearing made clear.

Levin, who is a member of the subcommittee, said during the hearing that the 80 Flatbush proposal will be his “top priority” in the coming weeks.

After the hearing, he told the Eagle he’ll hold an intensive series of meetings with the developer and community members, both separately and together, to discuss key issues.

* They will talk about project density, Levin said.

Alloy is asking the city to triple the site’s existing zoning limits.

* They will talk about lowering the height of the towers, Levin said.

Alloy’s plans call for two towers. The one that would be the Chrysler Building’s height would be 986 feet, or 74 stories, tall. The second tower would be 38 stories tall.

* They will talk about including setbacks on the State Street side of the project, Levin said.

The development site’s boundaries are State Street, Third Avenue, Schermerhorn Street and Flatbush Avenue.

“I’m open to compromise from all sides,” Levin told the Eagle. “And my understanding is the community has put forward some reasonable compromise ideas.”

Brooklyn Borough President said lower that skyscraper height

It would be helpful for Alloy to win Levin’s backing.

Because Alloy is asking for zoning changes for the 80 Flatbush project, there’s a public approval process that will include a vote by the full City Council.

In votes such as this, City Councilmembers usually follow the lead of their colleague who reps the district where the development site is located.

The public approval process is called a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.  

The most recent step in the process was completed earlier this month — when the City Planning Commission approved Alloy’s 80 Flatbush plan.

Earlier in the year, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recommended the height of the proposed 986-foot tower be cut to a maximum of 600 feet.

Before that, Community Board 2 voted against the 80 Flatbush plan.

Two public schools and affordable housing

There is both widespread support and widespread opposition for the 80 Flatbush project, which Alloy plans to build in partnership with the New York City Educational Construction Fund.

Its design includes about 900 apartments, two public schools, office and retail space and a cultural facility.

A nonprofit called the Fifth Avenue Committee would build and co-own 80 Flatbush’s 200 permanently affordable apartments.

One of the schools that would be built at 80 Flatbush would be a modern facility to house public high school Khalil Gibran International Academy. It is currently situated in a 150-year-old building on the development site.  

The other school planned for 80 Flatbush is a new elementary school.

Union support for development plan

At Tuesday’s City Council hearing, 37 supporters of the proposed 80 Flatbush design testified and 38 opponents spoke.

Many of the speakers on both sides of the issue had testified at previous hearings held over the past year.  

On Tuesday, supporters included reps from business organizations such as the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and property services workers union 32BJ SEIU.

Numerous architects expressed their support for the 80 Flatbush project.

So did Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“The Council should encourage dense development near transit hubs like this one,” he said.

Chris Havens of real estate firm TerraCRG predicted that, over the long term, the 80 Flatbush project will be “crucial to the health of this area.”

Opponents who testified on Tuesday included residents and civic-group leaders from Boerum Hill and Fort Greene, which is across the street from the development site.

State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who lives in Boerum Hill, criticized the “overwhelming density” of the proposed 80 Flatbush design.

Boerum Hill Association President Howard Kolins suggested Alloy should build one tower and one public school.

“We simply ask for a better plan,” he said.