Continuum sues to stop rejection of towers by Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Developer: Planning Commission should consider alternative for 960 Franklin Avenue

New York /
Sep.September 20, 2021 01:33 PM
960 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights and Continuum Company founder Ian Bruce Eichner (Hill West Architects, Getty)

960 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights and Continuum Company founder Ian Bruce Eichner (Hill West Architects, Getty)

Continuum’s towers might never go up, but they’re not going down without a fight.

Last week, the Continuum Company filed a lawsuit in state court to save a tower project it aims to build near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The developer, led by Ian Bruce Eichner, alleges the City Planning Commission has refused to consider a “reasonable alternative” to the proposed development on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, according to Curbed.

The commission, taking its cue from Mayor Bill de Blasio, is poised to reject Continuum’s application to allow two 34-story towers planned for 960 Franklin Avenue, which would kill the project.

But Continuum claims it put forth a Plan B, two 17-story towers, which didn’t even receive consideration, as it should have under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. A vote on the future of the project is scheduled for Wednesday, but Continuum, in a highly unusual move, is seeking a temporary injunction to delay it.

At a mid-August review session, City Planning Commission chair Marisa Lago claimed the developer had not given the panel enough time to consider the 17-story alternative. The lawsuit claims Continuum fulfilled a legal obligation and the City Planning Commission must do the same by considering the proposal.

While cutting the size of the towers in half, the proposal would also cut the number of affordable housing units in half, from 50 percent of the project to 25 percent.

The development’s main roadblock is that it would cast shadows over the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Locals have also registered the usual objections about the building overwhelming their neighborhood.

The legal filing is the latest twist in a project that has struggled in the face of public opposition. Last month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recommended against the taller version of the project.

After the community board refused to consider the 17-story plan, it voted 23 to 2 against rezoning to allow the taller one.

Continuum plans to proceed as-of-right if it cannot obtain a rezoning. The developer can still build up to 550 apartments in buildings that are up to seven stories tall. If the company goes that route, it doesn’t plan on including affordable units.

[Curbed] — Holden Walter-Warner





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