Judge lets Eichner’s Crown Heights project near Botanic Garden advance

There is a catch, however, as developer seeks rezoning

Ian Bruce Eichner and 960 Franklin Avenue. (Google Maps, Getty)
Ian Bruce Eichner and 960 Franklin Avenue. (Google Maps, Getty)

Two rezonings, held up by the same judge for similar reasons, can now both move forward. But in one case, a developer will need to figure out the logistics of holding an outdoor hearing.

Brooklyn Judge Katherine Levine on Thursday lifted her temporary restraining order blocking the rezoning of a former spice factory at 960 Franklin Avenue, where Ian Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company wants to build two 30-plus story rental towers.

The move allows the controversial project to advance on the condition that the developer works with Community Board 9 to provide an outdoor venue and virtual access to hearings on the matter.

This week Levine similarly removed an order that was holding up a proposal to rezone 80 blocks in Gowanus, after approving the city’s plan to hold an outdoor hearing in J.J. Byrne Park next month.

Community groups had argued in separate lawsuits against the Franklin Street and Gowanus rezonings that Uniform Land Use Review Procedure hearings must be in-person. Virtual proceedings, they claimed, deprived residents the ability to adequately discuss them.

City Hall is actively working on the Gowanus meetings but has “refused to support the in-person” Franklin Avenue community board meeting, according to attorneys from Kasowitz, Benson & Torres representing the developer. This isn’t surprising: In December, Mayor Bill de Blasio rescinded his support for the project, echoing the concerns of local residents that the tower would cast shadows over the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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The Gowanus rezoning is also being pursued through a city-led application, whereas the other is a proposal from a private developer.

A representative for the developer said the company is confident that the board will “make every effort to hear all voices in this discussion in a timely manner.”

“Brooklyn Community Board 9 is one of the most professional, attentive and future-forward community boards in the entire City of New York,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

A representative for the Crown Heights board could not immediately be reached for comment.

In February, City Planning certified Continuum’s plan for the towers. The developer is seeking to build two 39-story towers with 1,578 rentals, half of which would be affordable. Continuum has also floated an alternative plan for a 17-story building instead with fewer affordable apartments.

As-of-right, the company can build a smaller project with 500-plus condo units, all market-rate.