Judge overturns contested Franklin Avenue rezoning

Decision comes after mayor effectively killed another Crown Heights development

A rendering of the Franklin Avenue developments and Alicia Boyd (Photos via Getty; Department of City Planning)
A rendering of the Franklin Avenue developments and Alicia Boyd (Photos via Getty; Department of City Planning)

After years of legal wrangling, a Brooklyn judge struck down a contested Crown Heights rezoning on Monday.

Kings County Supreme Court Judge Reginald A. Boddie reversed the certification for the 2018 Franklin Avenue rezoning, siding with activists who alleged that the city did not conduct a thorough environmental review before it was approved, Brooklyn Paper reported.

Developer Cornell Realty sought the zoning change in order to build two 16-story buildings at 40 Crown Street and 931 Carroll Street near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The rezoning was approved by the City Council in December 2018, but just a few months later, a Kings County Supreme Court judge granted a temporary restraining order against it.

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“I think that the tide is turning,” said Alicia Boyd of the Movement to Protect our People (MTPOP), an activist group that has led the charge against the project. “People are tired of [the mayor’s] affordable housing plan. People have seen that it does not work, people have seen as rezonings, and rezonings have been passed that the amount of homelessness has risen, not decreased.”

A spokesperson for the city’s law department told the publican that it believes the environmental review was “appropriate” and that it plans to appeal Boddie’s ruling.

Opponents claimed that Cornell’s project, and the rezoning itself, would have furthered displacement in the neighborhood. Under the approved plan, the developer would have been able to build 518 new apartments, 258 of which would have been below-market-rate units built by the affordable housing developer Asian Americans for Equity.

The activists also claimed that the shadows cast by the towers would have harmed the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The garden itself did not get involved in this particular zoning battle, choosing instead to focus its efforts on the rezoning pursued by Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company to build two 39-story towers at 960 Franklin Avenue. On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled his support for that project, calling it “grossly out of scale with the neighborhood,” despite endorsing it earlier this year.

[Brooklyn Paper] — Sasha Jones