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Crown Heights megaproject could bring 800 affordable apartments to Brooklyn

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The project at 960 Franklin Avenue would be divided evenly between market-rate and affordable apartments

The two 39-story towers could bring 1,578 apartments to a site just east of Prospect Park.
Official

A large and underutilized site near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden could sprout two 39-story towers with a massive affordable housing component if developers Continuum Companies and Lincoln Equities are granted the various city variances they’re seeking.

The development project, which takes the address of 960 Franklin Avenue but spans a 120,000 square foot site bound by Franklin Avenue, Montgomery Street, Mary Pinkett Avenue, and Sullivan Place, is currently seeking zoning amendments with the Department of City Planning that would allow the developers to increase the site’s density and build a mixed-use project with 1,578 apartments, of which a whopping 50 percent would be affordable.

The 1.4 million-square-foot development would not only be one of the largest in the area, but would also constitute a major advancement of affordable housing in Brooklyn. The developers are seeking to mandate the site as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area, where 30 percent, or 473, of the total apartments would be created as permanently affordable housing.

The Draft Scope of Work on file with the city notes that 60 percent of the affordable apartments would be earmarked for extremely low-income, very low-income, and low-income New Yorkers making less than 80 percent of the area median income annually. (For a family of one, that’s $58,480 or less, for two it’s $66,800 or less, and for three it’s $75,120 or less. A larger list of AMI figures can be viewed here.)

Of the remaining affordable apartments, 20 percent (or 158) would be set aside for New Yorkers making 100 percent of AMI and 20 percent (also 158) would go to New Yorkers making 120 percent of AMI. The developers are seeking to waive some of the site’s parking requirements in order to build the quantity affordable housing.

If the appropriate variances aren’t granted to the developers, any affordable apartments would likely come under the city’s new 421-a program, Affordable New York, which would mandate that just 20 percent of units are set aside for New Yorkers making 130 percent or less of AMI.

The development’s remaining 789 apartments would be market rate. Though the developers are far from sussing out specific pricing for the apartments, the Draft Scope of Work indicates that the estimated pricing for the apartments will fall around $50 per square foot, short of the estimated $65 per square foot cost of forthcoming new development in Brooklyn.

The development would also contain retail and community space.
Hill West

The site has been occupied in part by a spice distribution and warehouse facility called the Morris J. Golombeck, Inc. Importers since 1955, and is also partially vacant. The site was formerly home to the Consumers Park Brewery from 1908 to 1932. In December of 2017, the Landmarks Preservation Commission issued a letter saying that no portion of the site is considered to have archaeological significance, paving the way for its leveling.

The 1.4 million square foot development that’s being proposed would include 180 parking spaces—down from the 462 required under traditional zoning rules—in two separate garages on the ground and cellar levels, 21,000 square feet of retail space, and 9,600 square feet of community facility space.

The plan also includes over 50,000 square feet of open area including nearly 25,000 square feet of roof garden terraces, 18,000 square feet of open plaza along the site’s interior roadway, and 7,300-square-feet of landscaped at-grade area between the property line and the Franklin Avenue subway entrance.

Construction could begin on the development’s first phase as early as June 2020, and be completed by the end of December 2022. The second phase could follow with construction beginning as early as October 2021, and be complete by the end of April 2024. In all, the development is expected to be built over a five-year period after it’s approved.

At 421 feet, plus 40 feet for a mechanical bulkhead, the buildings would be some of the tallest in the area, but they’re not without precedence. The report points to the nearby 33-story Tivoli Towers just two blocks north that contain 321 apartments, and the 25-story Ebbets Field development two blocks east that contain 1,300 apartments.

The development team will present its proposal to the public on March 12 at a public scoping meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. at the New York City Department of City Planning, City Planning Commission Hearing Room, 120 Broadway, Concourse Level.

The developers behind a proposed rental project across the street from 960 Franklin Avenue have also been seeking amendments to its zoning in order to create a more dense project. Developers Cornell Realty and Carmel Partners gained the crucial backing of area council member Laurie Cumbo in December to upzone the sites at 40 Crown Street and 931 Carroll Street to make way for two 16-story rental towers. Cumbo threw her support at the development after negotiating an increase in the project’s affordable housing component.

Curbed has reached out to Council Member Cumbo regarding 960 Franklin Avenue, and will update the post accordingly.