Prospect Heights

Clashing visions over development could center on a Prospect Heights McDonald’s

The property is across the street from Pacific Park.

August 8, 2019 Lore Croghan
Development is planned for the McDonald’s site across the street from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, whose towers are visible at left and in the background of this picture. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Something is cooking at the McDonald’s across the street from the Pacific Park mega-project — and it’s not Big Macs.

A development team plans to seek high-density rezoning that would allow the construction of a 19-story building on the site of the fast-food restaurant, a Community Board 8 Land Use Committee member revealed at a public meeting.

The McDonald’s on the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues in Prospect Heights is located in the proposed M-Crown zoning district — an area where CB8 would like to see zoning less dense than what developer Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings LLC has in mind. When the developer brings a formal rezoning proposal for the 840 Atlantic Ave. McDonald’s site to the board, it will have to offer sweeteners and concessions to try to win over CB8’s support.

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Community boards play a purely advisory role in property rezoning — but their support or opposition carries weight with their local City Council member, whose lead the rest of the City Council usually follows when voting on zoning measures.

CB8 has spent the past five years crafting proposed upzoning for an area in North Crown Heights and Prospect Heights that includes the McDonald’s site. The M-Crown upzoning is intended to encourage the construction of space for light industrial businesses, artisanal makers and community facilities along with residential development. The community board and the Department of City Planning are trying — and struggling — to reach a consensus on what its framework should be.

Differing views

CB8 Land Use Committee member Gib Veconi said at a July 23 meeting that people interested in developing the McDonald’s site had contacted him.

The McDonald’s is located in the proposed M-Crown zoning district. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The McDonald’s is located in the proposed M-Crown zoning district. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

“They anticipate filing a private ULURP seeking a rezoning of R9X,” Veconi said. “The proposal for the lot would be for a 19-story building.”

R9X is high-density residential zoning, and ULURP stands for Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a government-mandated process necessary to obtain zoning changes, which includes public testimony and votes by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.


The community board’s position is that because the McDonald’s site is located in the M-Crown district, it should be zoned R8A, a medium-density rezoning that would permit a 14-story building to be constructed if affordable apartments are part of the deal, Veconi said. 

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report, Norman Oder’s watchdog blog, was the first media outlet to publish the news about the McDonald’s site.

Early stages

Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings LLC controls the McDonald’s site; it signed a 99-year lease for the property that went into effect in November 2017, city Finance Department records indicate. The landlord is M.M.B. Associates LLC, whose managing member is Anthony Musto.

Tom Li said the planning process for developing the McDonald’s site is “just starting.” Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Tom Li said the planning process for developing the McDonald’s site is “just starting.” Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

“We are excited to partner with Tony Musto, who has owned this site for more than 30 years, to explore development opportunities,” Tom Li of Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings LLC told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

Li didn’t answer a question about whether planned development would include space for light manufacturing, artisanal makers or a community facility.

He called the development plan for the McDonald’s site “very long-term” and said, “We are interested in the potential for a project that could provide affordable housing and other community benefits at this underutilized site.”

Li didn’t comment on the type of rezoning Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings LLC might seek for the property, nor did he answer a question about what deal-sweeteners the team might offer to try to get CB8 to change its position on the site’s zoning.

“We are just starting the planning process and look forward to collaborating with the community as our plans come into focus,” Li said.

A spokesperson for the development team confirmed to the Eagle that in addition to the McDonald’s property, the development site includes adjacent properties 854 and 856 Atlantic Ave.

 This vacant lot at 854 Atlantic Ave. and the low-rise building at left are also part of the McDonald’s development site. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This vacant lot at 854 Atlantic Ave. and the partly visible building at left are also part of the McDonald’s development site. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

There’s a vacant lot at 854 Atlantic Ave. and 856 Atlantic Ave. is a rowhouse with Kinanm Lounge listed as a tenant. These properties are also located in the M-Crown district.

A family member of one of the properties’ owners declined to give a statement.

CB8 Land Use Committee Chairperson Ethel Tyus told the Eagle that “It’s likely that the developer will seek to maximize its return on investment by planning for market-rate residential development.”

“Developers will likely direct attention to the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development as a frame of reference for height and density, rather than the surrounding low-rise Prospect Heights/North Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy brownstones,” Tyus added.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.


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3 Comments

  1. Lovin' It

    I have always been surprised that a site next to so many public transportation options had a drive-through McDonald’s. That being said, hopefully McDonald’s keeps the retain space in whatever goes up 🙂