Brooklyn funeral home seeks reincarnation as housing

Longtime owner needs city’s permission to build 200K sf in Bensonhurst

Brooklyn Funeral Home Seeks Reincarnation as Housing
Dahill Funeral Home at 2525 65th Street in Brooklyn (Google Maps, Getty)

The longtime owner of a Bensonhurst funeral home hopes to breathe new life into his property by constructing a 200,000-square-foot apartment building.

Edward Sparacio, president of the Dahill Funeral Home, is seeking city approval for a 13-story multifamily project that would yield 155 new apartments, as well as 23,000 square feet of commercial space and a 36,000-square-foot medical office at 2525 65th Street.

The city would need to rezone the property, a triangular lot where 65th Street comes to a point with Avenue P and McDonald Avenue, from manufacturing to residential.

The rezoning application argues that the property is “not indicative of a manufacturing or industrial area,” noting, “The uses along 65th Street, save for the gasoline service station, are all residential.”

Sparacio has owned the property with John Litras since 1968, records show. Other recent tenants in the building have included a dental supply company, insurance brokerage, driving school, karate gym, and storefronts that sold lamps, pianos and car leases.

A rezoning would obligate Sparacio and Litras’ project to have about 40 affordable apartments to comply with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law, which city officials call the most rigorous zoning requirement for affordable housing of any major U.S. city.

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Without the 421a tax abatement, which expired in 2022, getting financing to build an unsubsidized rental project is often impossible. However, projects can still pencil out if there is no acquisition cost, as may be the case for the two longtime site owners.

Sparacio and Litras could also pivot to a condominium project or wait for Albany to pass a new abatement or otherwise reduce property taxes for rental buildings.

A representative of the funeral home declined to speak about the project.

Sparacio’s building sits just outside an area rezoned by the Bloomberg administration to limit new development. The administration enacted about 70 contextual rezonings in response to concerns about out-of-scale development in neighborhoods. The deputy mayor that oversaw those rezonings, Dan Doctoroff, said in 2020 that they should be revisited in light of the housing shortage.

Economists agree that restricting residential development tends to increase housing costs. Last summer, a single-family home on 75th Street in Bensonhurst sold for $3 million.

As part of the project, Sparacio proposed an entrance in the building for the adjacent Avenue P subway station.

The rezoning application must now traverse the city’s land use review process, which takes five to seven months and is ultimately decided by the local City Council member.

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