The fate of one of Brooklyn’s most controversial new developments is now more certain: The New York City Council’s subcommittee on zoning and franchises voted to approve 80 Flatbush, which will rise on a triangular lot at the intersection of Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill. Council member Stephen Levin, who represents the district in which the development will rise, finally gave his approval to the enormous mixed-use complex during the subcommittee meeting.
That approval was contingent on modifications to Alloy Development’s proposal for the site. The developers agreed to reduce the floor area ratio (FAR) from 18—which would have made it one of the city’s most dense projects—to 15.75; they also agreed to shave some height from the two skyscrapers that will dominate the development. A proposed 986-foot supertall will now stand 840 feet, and the second tower will shrink from 560 to 510 feet.
However, the community benefits touted by Alloy—including two schools and 200 units of permanently affordable housing—will remain. Furthermore, the schools—which will measure about 100,000 square feet—will have to be built first in order for the rest of project to proceed. Another point of contention for local residents—loading docks on State Street—have also been eliminated entirely from this new plan. Fresh renderings from Alloy give a sense of what the project will look like after the alterations.
“We’re proud that 80 Flatbush will deliver so many critically needed public benefits and help address the housing crisis,” Alloy Development CEO Jared Della Valle said in a statement. “We hope the broad support we received for building a dense project in a transit-rich area sends a strong message across the five boroughs: amid an ongoing housing crisis, New York City needs to be progressive and seize every opportunity for growth in locations that can accommodate it.”
Negotiations seemed to come down to the wire; in an interview with Brooklyn Paper Radio on Tuesday—before the Council and the developers broke for Yom Kippur—Levin indicated that a decision had not yet been made on the fate of the project. By the time they convened for Thursday’s vote however—which started an hour and a half later than scheduled—they had agreed to a compromise.
Since it was announced back in 2017, 80 Flatbush has become one of the more hotly debated new developments in Brooklyn. Alloy’s original proposal called for building two new towers—one a bona fide supertall at 986 feet, the other a comparatively modest 560 feet—that would house 900 apartments, 200 of which would be permanently affordable, along with Class-A office space. The complex would also see two historic buildings be adaptively reused (The revamp of the two historic buildings will move forward as planned), and would add two schools and a cultural space to the neighborhood.
The scale and scope of the project rankled longtime residents of nearby Boerum Hill, who argued that it’s simply too big for the area; indeed, 80 Flatbush would be more dense than other buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, and it would become the second-tallest building in Brooklyn upon completion. Other concerns ranged from an influx of 900 residents on an already-strained transit system, to the effect shadows cast from the building might have on a nearby community garden.
But the project also garnered support from organizations like Transportation Alternatives, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Riders Alliance for its transit-rich location (near several subway stops and the Long Island Rail Road at Atlantic Terminal), as well as the developers’ commitment to bringing much-needed resources to the borough, such as a new location for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an English-Arabic public school.
Support from the various committees that would need to sign off on it throughout the ULURP process was more mixed: Community Board 2 voted against it, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recommended downsizing it before he would give his support; the City Planning Commission, however, voted to approve it in August.
Assuming the project receives the remaining necessary approvals in the ULURP—the full City Council, which is now very likely, and the mayor—Alloy would begin construction next year, according to a spokesperson for the developer.