For two years, Cornell Realty has been trying to develop two former commercial laundry facilities in southern Crown Heights into residential towers with more than 500 apartments. Now the firm’s plan to rezone those properties is inching through the public review process, and YIMBY has a glimpse of what the project will look like, thanks to documents filed with the Department of City Planning.
The new zoning would pave the way for two 16-story, 175-foot-tall buildings at 40 Crown Street and 931 Carroll Street. If the developer decided to work with the current zoning, plans filed in 2014 could move forward. Back then, the firm hoped to erect four seven-story buildings with 209 apartments, maxing out the relatively low height limits and density allowed in southern Crown Heights. Both sites sit between Franklin and Washington avenues, next to the Franklin Avenue shuttle tracks.
The Crown Street building would span 427,634 square feet and hold 390 apartments, 150 of which would rent for below-market rates. It would also include 16,300 square feet of retail and 114 parking spots. The development site stretches through from Crown to Montgomery streets and fronts the entire block along the western side of Franklin Avenue.
On Carroll Street, the second 16-story tower would have 128 apartments, 34 of which would rent for below-market rates. The 134,300-square-foot building would also include a 37-car garage.
The finished development would host 518 apartments, 152 of which would rent through the city’s affordable housing lottery. Cornell also plans to take advantage of Option 1 of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, meaning 25 percent of the units will rent to families making an average of 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or $48,960 for a family of three. Ten percent of those units will go to families making up to 40 percent of the Area Median Income, or $32,640 for a family of three.
Cornell, led by Shifra Hager, paid $14.5 million for the Crown Street assemblage and $2.5 million for the lot on Carroll Street in 2014.
These rezoning plans and diagrams also include a third development site, which isn’t owned by Cornell but would still get an upzoning. If developed, the lot at the corner of Carroll Street and Franklin Avenue could produce a 54,000-square-foot building with 47 apartments, including 12 affordable units, and 7,500 square feet of retail.
The developer might apply for the 421-a tax exemption program, which would give the buildings a break in property taxes for up to 35 years. If the current proposal to revive 421-a makes it through the state legislature, the city would require Cornell to pay its construction workers at least $45 an hour, since the provision would apply to developments with at least 300 apartments.
As development has heated up in Crown Heights, controversy has overwhelmed some of the neighborhood’s high-profile projects. Politicians have been wrangling with the city’s Economic Development Corporation over a plan to redevelop the Bedford Union Armory, a historic drill hall only a couple blocks away. The city currently hopes to convert a portion of the property into a recreation center, and the rest would become a mix of 165 affordable rentals, 12 middle-income condominiums, and 165 market-rate rentals and 48 condominiums, Politico New York reported earlier this week. First, affordable housing groups slammed the project for including market-rate housing. Then in August, the city forced one of the developers, Slate Property Group, to drop out of the project. The firm had gotten caught up in a deed restriction scandal over Rivington House, a Lower East Side nursing home that was set to become condominiums.
Several blocks north and east on Bedford Avenue, another builder is trying to secure a rezoning for a much smaller development. If the project makes its way through public review, a nine-story, 94-unit affordable project will rise at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Pacific Street, across from the neighborhood’s other historic armory.