Bed-Stuy landlords propose 560 new apartments

Plan would require rezoning of 5 blocks along Park Avenue

Brooklyn Landlords Propose 560 New Apartments
514, 517 and 520 Park Avenue; New York City Councilmember Lincoln Restler (Getty, New York City Council, Google Maps)

At 12 development sites in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a group of property owners aims to build 560 apartments and three yeshivas to meet what it calls growing demand.

For once, getting the necessary rezoning might be the easy part.

“We are broadly supportive of expanded residential and community facility space in this area to meet the needs of our rapidly growing community,” a representative of City Council member Lincoln Restler said without discussing the project specifically.

Under the Council’s custom of member deference, Restler, as the local member, controls the rezoning’s fate.

The landlords, who are not named in the application but are represented by Isaac Levy of Complete Development, have proposed transforming a three-block stretch of Park Avenue, from Bedford Avenue to Sanford Street, into six apartment buildings and the religious schools. They need the land, which straddles Park Avenue, rezoned from manufacturing to residential.

They propose apartment buildings ranging from six to 11 stories with 400,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at 514, 517, 520, 528, 533 and 547 Park Avenue. Schools standing five stories tall and spanning 240,000 square feet are planned for 49 Spencer Street, 76-96 Sandford Street and 79-89 Walworth Street, and 86-88 Walworth Street. An existing school would be legalized by the rezoning.

Some of the applicants are affiliated with United Talmudic Academy, Yeshiva Bnos Ahavas Israel, Hatzolah of Williamsburg and Beth Chana School.

Between 25 and 30 percent of the project’s apartments would be affordable to households earning 60 to 80 percent of the area median income, although Restler could demand more income-restricted units. While the market-rate housing could be targeting the local religious community, the affordable units would be awarded through a public lottery.

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The north section of Bedford-Stuyvesant, which borders Williamsburg, has steadily become more residential since the dozen development sites were zoned for manufacturing in the early 1960s.

The transition included the city-sponsored Flushing-Bedford rezoning in 2001, when a significant decline in industrial uses was noted, as were the auto shops, junk yards and vacant land that blighted the land, according to the rezoning application.

Subsequent rezonings included the city’s Bedford-Stuyvesant North plan in 2012 and a private application that changed portions of Myrtle Avenue from manufacturing to residential in 2017.

Last summer at the nearby Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg, Simon Dushinky’s Rabsky Group landed $140 million in construction financing to build 1,100 new apartments. But the tax abatement essential for most rental projects, 421a, is no longer available to projects that have not begun.

Financing the 560-unit Park Avenue project could prove more difficult than getting political approval, especially if some version 421a is not restored by the state legislature.

But some developers have continued applying for rezonings so they can be ready to build if Albany reduces property taxes enough to make rental projects broadly viable.

The landlords behind the rezoning application could not be reached, and their legal representative did not immediately return a request for comment. 

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