Council member crushes Crown Heights project

Crystal Hudson rejects plan for 150 units, retail, manufacturing on empty lot

Council member Crystal Hudson; rendering of 962 Pacific Street (Getty, New York City Council, NYC Planning)
Council member Crystal Hudson; rendering of 962 Pacific Street (Getty, New York City Council, NYC Planning)

Council member Crystal Hudson is pulling the plug on a local developer’s $115 million project to turn a long-vacant Crown Heights lot into a mixed-use building.

A City Council zoning subcommittee unanimously rejected a proposal by Nadine Oelsner to rezone 962 Pacific Street to make way for 150 apartments, a child care center and manufacturing space.

The vote, which effectively kills Oelsner’s application, came after Hudson asked committee members not to approve any private rezoning applications in an area that she and the Adams administration plan to rezone. The decision will delay the project for a year or two and could prevent it from happening at all.

The small-time builder said her project offered everything the community sought.

“For years, we’ve worked with the Crown Heights community to transform a vacant lot into one that provides deeply affordable housing and childcare — two of the neighborhood’s greatest needs,” Oelsner said. “It’s disappointing that our elected officials are simply telling us to ‘wait in line.’ New Yorkers can’t afford to wait.”

Oelsner’s company, HSN Realty, was seeking City Council approval to rezone the parcel, which has been in her family since the 1960s, from manufacturing to residential. The property lies in a gentrifying section of Brooklyn where plans for a larger rezoning are in the works.

HSN started planning its development more than five years ago after several nearby rezonings went through. Oelsner’s argument to Hudson was that her project is modeled on the larger Atlantic Avenue Mixed Use Plan, known as AAMUP.

The Adams administration’s draft of AAMUP would allow Oelsner’s project. The 154,000-square-foot building would include 48 affordable apartments. She was also offering $50,000 for anti-displacement efforts.

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Hudson has said Oelsner should wait for her property to be rezoned as part of AAMUP, which is expected to start the seven-month land use review process sometime this year.

“In my view, it is much more effective to focus on an affordable plan that is going to provide over 1,200 affordable homes than allowing individual projects to spring up here and there in an uncoordinated, unplanned way,” Hudson said at yesterday’s subcommittee meeting.

Hudson, in her third year in office, has approved other nearby rezonings. In 2022, she initially objected to two apartment projects on Atlantic Avenue, saying she wanted to comprehensively rezone the district rather than considering projects piecemeal. But rezoning applications cannot be paused, and Hudson ultimately approved them after the developers significantly increased the amount of affordable housing.

Hudson reached out to Oelsner through an intermediary and offered to bless the rezoning if the developer would build 100 percent affordable senior housing at another site, a source close to the developer said. She also asked for $5 million to $10 million to be placed in a fund for affordable housing that would be managed by a third party, the source said.

Hudson’s office responded to a request for comment three weeks later, calling the alleged offer “categorically false.”

The full Council will vote on the rezoning tomorrow and is expected to follow the local member’s recommendation. It’s unclear whether Oeslner will withdraw the application before the vote, as is customary when it is not going to pass.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the community is going to have to wait longer for some important benefits that they need and deserve,” said Michelle de la Uz, a former City Planning Commission member who has been following the Pacific Street drama.

This article has been updated with a comment from City Council member Crystal Hudson’s office.

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