The Real Deal New York

City Council wary of Savanna’s big DoBro project

Developer is seeking zoning change under MIH for 49-story building with 270 apartments

October 06, 2016 10:50AM

Savanna managing partners Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock with renderings of 141 Willoughby Street (credit: BKSK Architects)

Savanna managing partners Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock with renderings of 141 Willoughby Street (credit: BKSK Architects)

Savanna is pushing the City Council to approve its mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn that would bring 270 apartments and more than 120,000 square feet of commercial space to the area. The hitch? It requires a fat rezoning from a skeptical City Council.

The private equity firm is seeking a zoning change under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy that would amount to a 50 percent increase in total floor area over what is currently permitted at 141 Willoughby Street.

At a public hearing on Wednesday, Downtown Brooklyn council member Stephen Levin took issue with elements of the development, which was approved by the City Planning Commission last month, Politico reported.

“I am concerned about the impact (the rezoning) would have on the character and quality of the Downtown Brooklyn area, and the precedent that it would set for future development in that area,” he said. Levin added that he was concerned about existing infrastructure but was pleased that the application would address affordable housing needs and office space in the area.

The development, which sits just outside the area of Brooklyn that was rezoned 12 years ago, would include 81 rental units at below-market rates, with the remainder of the units priced at market rates or higher. The project would total more than 372,000 square feet, with 30,000 square feet of retail and 94,000 square feet of office space.

Savanna TRData LogoTINY bought 141 Willoughby Street for $28 million from the Institute of Design and Construction in 2014. The site is currently zoned for up to 120,000 square feet of residential space.

In May, its plans hit a roadblock when the local community board rejected the proposed zoning changes. Board members were disappointed the project didn’t include plans for a school or improvements to local infrastructure.

However, the City Planning Commission approved the project last month.

Savanna’s lawyer Jay Segal told the hearing on Wednesday the building is not “out of scale with its neighbors” and will bring significant office space and affordable housing to the neighborhood.

“We request that the Council approve this application and not reject it because the next application that comes before (the Council) may not have those characteristics,” Segal said.

Council approval is required for the project to move forward. A vote on the project has not yet been scheduled.

This month, The Real Deal examineed the early stumbling blocks the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy has encountered.  [Politico]Miriam Hall

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