Eco-friendly Sheepshead Bay tower stalls over parking concerns
A plan to bring a 14-story, carbon-dioxide-swallowing senior care facility to Sheepshead Bay is facing opposition from the neighborhood’s community board for the facility’s lack of parking.
Developers hope to transform a mostly empty 6,600-square-foot lot at 1508 Avenue Z into an approximately 160-foot-tall, 14-story mixed-use building complete with a senior care facility, community center and commercial space on the ground floor. The façade — in the style of the post-war Japanese Metabolism movement, according to YIMBY — is wrapped in greenery that will filter CO2 from the air, and the roof will have a stormwater retention system that will recycle the water into the plumbing system.
Lawyers for SB1 Holdings LLC, the property owner, never got to tout the eco-conscious design at the Community Board 15 meeting Tuesday night, where it sought waivers for zoning limits on height, floor area and parking. The board voted unanimously against the plan for its lack of parking, and its proximity to the elevated rails of the Sheepshead Bay subway station.
The proposed development is slightly smaller than it was when permits were first filed in June 2018, though the developer’s lawyers said at the meeting that they would still need the waivers.
Ultimately, members voted unanimously to deny the developers the special permits, citing some safety concerns, but mostly frustrations about about parking and congestion.
“Parking is already a disaster,” said board member Debra Greif, who later raised concerns about the ingress and egress of ambulatory vehicles for the medical center.
SB1 Holdings attorney David Rosenberg contended that an environmental assessment of the surrounding area, including street spots and municipal lots, nearby blocks have roughly “33 available spaces” during peak hours, thus negating developers’ obligation to provide 30 parking spaces in the plan.
Rosenberg also said that ambulatory vehicles would utilize the street in front of the lot — currently a bus stop — and that it would be up to the city’s Department of Transportation to hopefully move the bus stop.
“They are legally not allowed to block the bus stop,” Greif said. “This is not appropriate.”
Lead attorney on the project Richard Lobel argued that it would cost developers more money than the project would bring in to build as-of-right on the lot, which is bounded by Sheepshead Bay Road, Avenue Z, East 16th Street and East 15th Street and neighbors the elevated train tracks.
“It is a very difficult and challenging lot on which to build,” Lobel said, adding that construction would have to be done around in coordination with the MTA, so to not interrupt B and Q train service.
But the development group, SB1 Holdings — who the firm has told the Brooklyn Eagle is “local to the neighborhood” — feels that the community’s need for a senior care facility more than justifies the means, so long as they can get around its current zoning requirements.
“From what I understand, [this neighborhood] has the second highest population of seniors in Brooklyn,” Lobel said, noting that the facility would include roughly 88 units and 110 beds, and would focus on patients with memory loss and dementia.
The 14-story building would be the second tallest in the neighborhood of one- and two-family homes and low-slung co-op buildings. One block away, also abutting the train tracks, is 1 Brooklyn Bay, a 30-story building that opened last year. That building is among the tallest in southern Brooklyn.
Former board member Maurice Kolodin called the proposal “ludicrous.”
“I find it totally objectionable that you want to put residents with memory problems up against a subway station,” he said, noting the noise and vibration that comes from the nearby train station.
Another board remember remarked, “This is the most ridiculous project I’ve ever heard for this area in my entire life. Period.”
A plan for a nine-story, 101-car parking garage on the oddly shaped site came before the board in 2009, at which time members cited similar traffic and safety concerns and, again, voted no.
The board’s vote is only advisory. From here, lawyers will respond to clarification requests from the Board of Standards and Appeals, after which they hope the current plan will proceed to public hearing in the coming months.
But the board’s mind is made up, CB15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo said Wednesday. “We are very much against this plan,” she told the Eagle.
Correction (4:00 p.m.): A previous version of this article identified Maurice Kolodin as a board member. He is a former board member. The Eagle regrets the error.