Avery Hall seeks air rights for larger resi building under Gowanus Brooklyn rezoning

Sale of rights is part of rezoning proposal

Avery Hall's Brian Ezra and 272 Fourth Avenue (Google Maps)
Avery Hall's Brian Ezra and 272 Fourth Avenue (Google Maps)

Avery Hall Investments has two potential plans for a development site in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Both depend on the city rezoning the neighborhood, and one relies on acquiring 50,000 square feet of air rights.

The developer on Thursday unveiled proposals for a 14-story residential building with 125 apartments at 272 Fourth Avenue. Under this scenario, more than 30 units would be set aside for low- to middle-income tenants.

That vision relies on approval of the proposed Gowanus rezoning, which would mandate a certain percentage of affordable housing in all-new residential construction as part of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. Avery also is eyeing 50,000 square feet of air rights owned by the city, which could be transferred from an adjacent MTA substation at 276 Fourth Avenue.

The air rights sale was included in the proposal to rezone Gowanus, at the urging of the city’s Economic Development Corp., as first reported by Brooklyn Paper. The proposal doesn’t specify a buyer for the air rights, nor potential pricing.

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“As part of EDC’s economic development mission, we work with our sister agencies to identify opportunities to create jobs and housing on underutilized sites, so it made sense to study this site as part of the Gowanus plan,” a spokesperson for the EDC said in a statement.

If the rezoning is approved and Avery wins the bid for the air rights, it could build up to 200 residential units, with 50 affordable apartments. The company estimates that total cost of development, with the air rights purchase, would clock in around $120 million. Without the rights, it would total $90 million.

Over the last few years, Avery has scooped up a number of sites in Gowanus, including a site at 469 President Street, 473 President Street and 514 Union Street for $44 million and another at 204 Fourth Avenue for $30 million. The company picked up 272 Fourth Avenue in 2019 for $15 million and added two more sites to the assemblage this week, paying $5.3 million for 274 Fourth Avenue and 538 Carroll Street.

Avery and other developers are banking on the application to rezone Gowanus successfully completing the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The rezoning process was delayed by a lawsuit that argued the proposal could not move forward if hearings were held virtually. A state court judge ultimately ruled that the proposal could move forward if a hybrid hearing — featuring both an in-person and virtual option — were held. Brooklyn Community boards 6 and 2 are hosting a joint hearing Thursday afternoon at J. J. Byrne Park.