The Daily Dirt: Crown Heights project in trouble as Council member balks

Crystal Hudson asks colleagues to reject rezoning on principle

Brooklyn Council Member Asks Colleagues to Kill Project
City Council member Crystal Hudson and 962 Pacific Street (Getty, Google Maps)

Council member Crystal Hudson has the pro-housing movement in a panic.

The Council member this week asked her colleagues on the zoning subcommittee not to approve any private rezoning applications in the area she and the Adams administration plan to rezone.

Given the Council’s tradition of member deference, that spells doom for Nadine Oelsner’s application to rezone 962 Pacific Street to allow for 150 apartments (including 38 to 45 affordable units), a child care center and manufacturing space.

Hudson left Wednesday’s committee meeting early to attend a press conference, missing all the testimony of Brooklynites who showed up to support the Crown Heights project. She did stay long enough to hear Oelsner’s land-use attorney and architect lay out a compelling rationale for the rezoning, but given that she recited a statement of opposition before they spoke, she might have already made up her mind.

That would be a shame, because the 153,000-square-foot project would meet or exceed all of Hudson’s goals for the comprehensive rezoning: housing, affordable units, community space, manufacturing jobs, open space (a garden), and pedestrian safety (zero parking spots).

“They’re not creating problems here, they’re creating solutions,” the project’s attorney said of his clients.

Oelsner’s land is surrounded by 25 parcels with the same R7A zoning that she is seeking, and her project is smaller than what would be allowed by the draft rezoning proposed at Hudson’s request by the Department of City Planning.

Hudson argues that the draft could change based on community feedback, but it’s clear that Oelsner’s project is exactly the kind of development Hudson and the local community board have been seeking.

The only practical effect of denying Oelsner’s application would be to delay the project — and its much-needed apartments, child care center and manufacturing space — for a year or two. Given the vicissitudes of the economy and financing, it could even kill it. Oelsner has already borrowed $11.5 million just to get to this point.

Hudson has been willing to negotiate before. Early in her tenure, she approved two Atlantic Avenue rezonings that were pending before she took office, after initially insisting the developers start the multi-year process from scratch.

Given that Oelsner submitted a pre-application for the rezoning in 2020, only to be told several times by city officials to wait her turn, Hudson may come to realize that the proposal deserves to be heard. Indeed, that is the very purpose of the zoning subcommittee and Land Use Committee.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The full Council’s deadline to vote on the application is next month.

What we’re thinking about: Will Crystal Hudson sit down with the owners of 962 Pacific Street? If she doesn’t, would her City Council colleagues approve the project against her wishes? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: In Central and Northern New Jersey, industrial properties dominate the investment sales market. And if you bought some just before the pandemic, you can now sell it for twice what you paid, according to Woodbridge-based NAI DiLeo-Bram & Company. Warehouse/logistics property sold there in the past six months went for an average of $239 per square foot, up from $122 in 2019.

Elsewhere in New York…

— State lawmakers are seeking to end a requirement that gas companies provide a free gas hookup to most new commercial properties or homes that request it and are within 100 feet of a gas line. One objection to the 1981 law, Newsday reports, is that the cost of such hookups — $200 million to $300 million annually — is passed on to existing customers. But the greater reason Gov. Kathy Hochul and some state legislators want the law changed is that new gas connections run counter to the state’s clean-energy goals. Gas interests are fighting the move.

— Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman pulled out of a cross-marketing partnership with Suffolk County, forfeiting $85,000 in state funds. The amount was small, but Newsday’s editorial board saw self-promotion as Blakeman’s motivation. “Last year, Blakeman launched a $600,000 television ad campaign featuring himself,” the board wrote. “More recently, Blakeman pushed forward a plan to spend $10 million on celebrating Nassau’s 125th anniversary that makes him the center of attention. The money comes from federal Covid-19 relief aid.”

— One of the three suspects in a robbery of the “Bling Bishop,” Brooklyn pastor Lamor Whitehead, was killed Wednesday in a shootout with federal officers serving an arrest warrant in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, Gothamist reported. The other two suspects have pleaded guilty to robbing Whitehead and his wife of more than $1 million worth of jewelry in Canarsie while he delivered a livestreamed sermon in 2022. Whitehead was indicted later that year for allegedly swindling a parishioner of $90,000.

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Thursday was $28 million for a condo at 50 Central Park South.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $22 million for a two-unit building at 1128 Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side.

New to the Market: The priciest residences to hit the market Thursday were a condo at 551 West 21st Street in West Chelsea asking $12 million and a condo at 67 Vestry Street in Tribeca also asking $12 million. Compass has both listings. — Jay Young

Recommended For You