Crown Heights

Here’s your chance to speak up about the Spice Factory

March 12 meeting about Crown Heights South development

March 1, 2019 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Take a good long look at the Spice Factory — developers plan to demolish it. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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Will you miss the Spice Factory when it’s gone?

On weekdays, the powerful scent of Morris J. Golombeck Inc.’s herbs and spices fills the air outside 960 Franklin Ave. If you’re strolling by, you may feel a sudden urge to take a gourmet cooking class so your dinners will smell half this great.

The spice importer’s Crown Heights South factory is pleasing to the eye as well. The austerely beautiful red-brick complex has magisterial arched windows and a smokestack.

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Plus, if you’re a beer drinker, 960 Franklin Ave. is sacred ground. It began its existence as an enormous brewery called the Consumers Park Brewing Co.

So. If you think the Spice Factory should be adaptively reused and a new apartment building should be constructed on adjacent vacant land, this is your moment to share your opinion with city officials.

If you support Ian Bruce Eichner’s plan to tear down the Spice Factory and build a 1.37 million-square-foot development with two towers, each 39 stories tall, now is the time to speak up.

If you think Eichner’s firm Continuum Co. and development partner Lincoln Equities should build a more modestly sized apartment complex in accord with current zoning, it’s time to say so:

At 1 p.m. on March 12, the City Planning Department will hold a public scoping meeting about the proposed development at 960 Franklin Ave. The meeting room is on the concourse level of 120 Broadway in Manhattan. You can see the notice that the city agency posted about the meeting here. If you can’t attend, you can send written testimony to the City Planning Department.

Here's the developers' vision for the Spice Factory project. Rendering via the City Planning Department
Here’s the developers’ vision for the Spice Factory project. Rendering via the City Planning Department

A 1,578-unit apartment complex where a brewery stood

The meeting is a step in the uniform land use review procedure — or ULURP — the Spice Factory project is required to undergo because its developers are seeking zoning changes.

A draft scope of work for 960 Franklin Ave. says their proposed rental-apartment complex would have 1,578-units, 789 of which will be affordable housing if zoning changes are made. There would also be retail space and a community facility.

In Community Board 9 meetings last year, numerous neighborhood residents voiced their disapproval of proposed high-rise development at 960 Franklin Ave.

The developers own part of the Spice Factory site and agreed to buy the rest.

In 2017 they bought 962 and 972 Franklin Ave. for $33 million from HPG Associates, whose president is Zev Golombeck, city Finance Department records indicate. We checked in with Golombeck employees the other day, and they’re still occupying the factory — for now.

In 2017 the developers also signed a contract to buy 124 and 130 Montgomery St. from HPG Associates. The memorandum of contract filed in Finance Department records doesn’t reveal the price they agreed to pay for these properties.

Some historical tidbits about the site:

  • Consumers Park Brewing Co. opened in 1900 with a brewery, a beer garden, a restaurant, a hotel and concert facilities on the property, Suzanne Spellen wrote for Brownstoner.
  • Morris J. Golombeck Inc. Importers of Spices moved into 960 Franklin Ave. around 1955, the draft scope of work says.

Other developments at this intersection

The intersection of Franklin Avenue and Montgomery Street, where the Spice Factory is located, is quite the development node.

On the opposite corner from the Spice Factory, there’s a vast, rubble-strewn site at 40 Crown St., aka 902 Franklin Ave.

Last year, Cornell Realty Management sold the site for $41.025 million to an entity led by Dennis Markus, Finance Department records show. He’s the chief financial officer of San Francisco-based Carmel Partners.

The site is made up of properties at 135 Montgomery St., 149 Montgomery St. and 40-64 Crown St.

The developer got the property rezoned so it can build a 16-story tower.

The building under construction is the 111 Montgomery Street Condominium. The vacant lot is 40 Crown St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The building under construction is the 111 Montgomery Street Condominium. The vacant lot is 40 Crown St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Behind the vacant site, construction is well underway on a 12-story residential building at 109 Montgomery St.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden sold this site for $24.5 million in 2015, Finance Department records show.

According to the state Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau website, there will be 163 apartments in this condo development, which is called the 111 Montgomery Street Condominium.

A 2016 DNAinfo story identifies the developers as LIVWRK in partnership with First Market Properties.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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