Public Review Procedure Launches for 960 Franklin Avenue Towers in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Rendering of 960 Franklin Avenue - Hill West ArchitectsRendering of 960 Franklin Avenue - Hill West Architects

The Department of City Planning has officially launched the requisite public review process for 960 Franklin Avenue, a contentious high-rise development in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The proposal includes two 39-story buildings flanked by several additional volumes ranging from 16 to 20 stories.

Developers behind the proposals include Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company and Lincoln Equities Group of Rutherford, NJ. Before the project can break ground, the developers would need to acquire special zoning permits to allow for greater residential density, overall height, and a waiver of typical parking requirements for a development of this scale.

Site Map of 960 Franklin Avenue - Hill West Architects

Site Map of 960 Franklin Avenue – Hill West Architects

Existing proposals specify the construction of 1,578 apartments including around 780 income restricted and affordable units for medium- to extremely low-income households, over 20,000 square feet of retail space, and 9,678 square feet of unspecified community facilities. The development would also include two separate parking garages. The entire development would comprise just under 1.4 million square feet.

Illustrative pedestrian-level view of the proposed development from the northeast corner of Montgomery Street and Franklin Avenue – Hill West Architects

Illustrative pedestrian-level view of the proposed development from the northeast corner of Montgomery Street and Franklin Avenue – Hill West Architects

In letters dated December 4 and 20, 2017, the Landmarks Preservation Commission indicated that the development site does not have archaeological significance and that the commission “did not have interest in preserving the on-site buildings” that will be demolished if the project is allowed to proceed.

Leading arguments against the development cite the anticipated shadows that would extend over a sizable portion of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Located just 200 feet away from the historic gardens, shadows from the proposed development are anticipated to affect a total of 23 greenhouses and nurseries. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently flip-flopped against the development after initially commenting that he felt the project posed no serious detriment to the Botanic Gardens.

Massing diagram of 960 Franklin Avenue - Hill West Architects

Massing diagram of 960 Franklin Avenue – Hill West Architects

Preliminary renderings of 960 Franklin Avenue - Hill West Architects

Preliminary renderings of 960 Franklin Avenue – Hill West Architects

If approved, it is expected that development would be constructed in approximately four years following necessary approvals. Completion and occupancy could be expected as early as 2024.

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21 Comments on "Public Review Procedure Launches for 960 Franklin Avenue Towers in Crown Heights, Brooklyn"

  1. David : Sent From Heaven. | February 6, 2021 at 8:29 am | Reply

    Different ideas lead to conflict, but they are not violent. However, I think development is something that should be encouraged: Thanks to New York YIMBY.

  2. This is a totally sensible project, but unfortunately the public review process in this case is just a formality–we already know it won’t be approved. Report on that.

  3. I like this a LOT. It’s presence from every angle or location is just fantastic. I really hope this comes to reality.

    • I don’t know how much they are paying you but as a neighbor this is the worst possible development for the space. The BBG is a necessary refuge for those of us who can’t afford to escape the city. I will do everything in my power to stop this from happening.

  4. David in Bushwick | February 6, 2021 at 9:20 am | Reply

    “The development would also include two separate parking garages.”
    This is a very viable project, especially with the hundreds of badly needed affordable housing units. But we need to stop adding hundreds of parking spaces in a city that needs no more vehicle congestion. The millions spent on these parking garages could go toward more affordable housing units. Manhattan super-luxe buildings don’t have parking, and the people living in this location don’t drive to country homes in Westchester. There are 3 subway lines just to the south, enough with adding more polluting congestion.

    • I’m sorry you live in Bushwick where there is no park and very little architecture of merit but please don’t outsource your lack of taste to our stretch of Brooklyn. This development is a nightmare that must be fought with everything we have.

  5. Why not flip the bulking to lessen impact on the Botanical Gardens?

  6. If the shadows will affect the BBG’s greenhouses and nurseries, then the developer should strike a deal with the garden to pay for relocations and upgrades.

  7. this development needs to be stopped. The City Planning Commission is against it, the Community Board is against it and Mayor DeBlasio is against it but the developers are still trying to push it through!
    MAS & Brooklyn Botanic Garden Urge City Planning not to Certify 960 Franklin
    The Towers would cover the Garden in shadows for hours each day, destroying hundreds of species of plants and endangering thousands of others
    The President of Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), Adrian Benepe, and the President of the Municipal Art Society (MAS), Elizabeth Goldstein, today voiced strong opposition to a newly submitted development plan for 960 Franklin Avenue that would cause catastrophic harm to the Garden. They urged the City Planning Commission (CPC) to withhold certification of the rezoning application that is based on a review of the developer’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

    The development in question is a nearly three-acre site in Crown Heights, which at its nearest point is merely 150 feet east of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a world-class horticultural institution that is more than 110-years old. The huge structure would devastate large sections of it by casting a shadow over BBG for hours each day all year long, with a particularly severe impact on the Garden’s 23 glass houses, including the three conservatories that house its world-renowned Desert, Tropical, and Temperate living plant collections. It will also plunge the adjacent Jackie Robinson Playground into deep shadow every afternoon year-round, robbing the children’s play area and its many trees of crucial sunlight. A petition opposing the development has over 50,000 signatures.

    “This entire ill-conceived, vastly out-of-scale project is an existential threat to Brooklyn Botanic Garden and its century-old living museum of plants, and it will also cast neighborhood parks into perpetual shadow,” said Adrian Benepe, President of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “The project itself, and the developers’ insistence on pressing forward despite widespread opposition at all levels, is a slap in the face to the people of Brooklyn and New York City. We strongly urge the City Planning Commission to deny certification for ULURP, and if it proceeds, to completely reject this utterly inappropriate and destructive project”

    The developers are requesting several rezoning changes that would allow them to create a mega-development that would be the tallest series of buildings in the surrounding area, topping out with two towers at about 420 feet with 40-foot bulkheads. The requested zoning class, R9-D would dwarf the existing zoning, which was put into place in 1991 specifically to protect the Garden from a destructive loss of sunlight. The developers’ plan concedes that the project would cause “significant adverse impacts” to the Garden, in a phrase that is repeated throughout the DEIS document. It states plainly that the shadows’ “impacts to both the Garden and Jackie Robinson Playground are unmitigable.”

    “City Planning cannot properly review a project of this magnitude without a realistic picture of its environmental impact,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the Municipal Art Society of New York. “The existing zoning was put in place to protect sunlight on Brooklyn Botanic Garden; nearby spaces like Jackie Robinson Playground and Medgar Evers College have been protected by it as well. If a developer wants special permission to defy that zoning, the people of Crown Heights deserve an honest assessment of the way their neighborhood may be forever changed.”
    this isn’t about affordable housing either.
    .Elizabeth Reina-Longoria, the communications director for the Garden, said that the institution is “not against affordable housing.”
    “It’s a false dichotomy to say it’s either/or,” she said.
    Even the developers’ own environmental impact statement expressed concerns that the Garden might have to “get rid of the desert collection” and that changes to the Garden’s sunlight exposure “may alter the ability of the Garden to carry out its mission,” according to staff from the Garden, who obtained a copy of the assessment.
    The developers are trying to change zoning that currently caps building heights at 75 feet at the site of the proposed 960 Franklin Avenue development, parameters that were established in 1991 to protect the sunlight that shines on the Garden.
    Eichner, of Continuum, started in real estate in the 1970s with a rental property in Park Slope. He was responsible for the first high-rise building in Brooklyn Heights since landmark height legislation was passed in 1965, a Montague Street property built in 1998. In 2017, he settled for $6.5 million with the New York District Attorney over misleading claims to timeshare purchasers about their abilities to reserve rooms and resell shares. Earlier this year, a contractor who worked with Eichner on a Flatiron condo development sued the developer, saying Eichner did not pay his $14 million tab.
    One Eichner development, a 44-story office tower in Times Square, was documented in the 1993 book “High Rise: How 1,000 Men and Women Worked Around the Clock for Five Years and Lost $200 Million Building a Skyscraper.”

    • Lol, save it dude,

      • This development should not be allowed to proceed as the collateral damage far outweighs the benefits. Let the developers find another location whether it be in Brooklyn or elsewhere for their project. Also, people should examine the criteria for these so called “affordable ” units as you will find they aren’t as affordable to working class people as is portrayed. Detrimentally impacting our cultural institutions, parks, etc is too high a price to pay for this development.

    • The tax money that these towers far outweigh the cons and would help institutions like the Gardens and the Brooklyn Museum be more well funded. The area right now blighted and that whole block has nothing but the abandoned spice factory. This development would benefit neighborhood and bring amenities to the people living in the area, especially all the low income people living in the ebbet fields houses.

  8. Stop this development now.
    City planning bigwigs formally kicked off the lengthy rezoning process of 960 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights on Monday, starting the clock on a developer’s long-shot bid to erect a massive residential tower just 150 feet from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — but the proposal was quickly met with fierce opposition from local stakeholders, City Hall, and the City Planning Commission.

    “Simply put, the project applicant is seeking way too much density for this site,” said City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago during a Feb. 1 meeting of the commission. “Leading to an overbearing envelope with no precedent and a development that is grossly out of scale with the surrounding context.”While the rezoning proposal was certified during the virtual hearing, allowing the six-to-eight month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to begin, the commissioners made clear that they did not support the plan — and they would use their advisory position to recommend that the proposal not go forward.

    Commissioners cited data from the proposal’s Environmental Impact Statement that shows that the 421-foot towers, which the rezoning would allow construction of, would cloak parts of the nearby Botanic Garden in shadow for several hours each day year-round — potentially devastating the flower emporium’s plant life.

    “I have never seen an environmental impact statement with such a stark, scary description of the open-space impacts here,” said Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin.
    The mayor, whose rubber stamp is essential for land-use changes to pass, came out in opposition to the multi-tower project in December, telling Gothamist he felt the project was “grossly out of scale with the neighborhood” — a move that came months after internal Parks Department documents showed that the city was aware of the potential damage to the adjacent garden.

    The proposal has only been slightly modified since then, knocking the height of the tallest towers down from 39 stories to 34 stories.

    Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who holds significant power over the rezoning as the area’s representative, along with Council Speaker Corey Johnson, released a joint statement condemning the plan, and blasted Continuum for their attempts to push the rezoning through despite communal opposition.
    “The Council is disappointed that Continuum continues to advance this proposal despite widespread opposition in the community.
    Members of the City Planning Commission said the mountain of evidence that shows the towers would be devastating to the Botanic Garden were enough to disqualify the project, but that they would formally start the Uniform Land Use Review Process to allow the public to weigh in.

    “This should just be a non-starter, but the point of the ULURP process is to let the public tell us what we think before we say what we think, so this is going to be a robust public process,” said Levin.

  9. This project is totally out of order. I say this because these new high rise buildings aren’t for low income every day working class people. This building will be designed for tourist and the wealthy who can afford the astronomical rents! It’s all ready bad enough that these foreign developers come into urban neighborhoods, raise the rents sky high and the people use up the community for their own benefit! I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over twenty years and to see the state on how this neighborhood has changed is totally sad! If your going to come into a neighborhood with existing residents, the least you can do is make the apartments affordable so that people can work and still thrive! Black people can do this on park avenue in the city, so why come into a neighborhood, build these sky scraping towers and raise the rents. In addition, it’s will be another incomplete project! These developers think that their going to get market value on these apartments. I’m not in favor of this building project! It will do nothing and give nothing to the neighborhood whatsoever

  10. My name is William battle im currently in a shelter i have a voucher for 1,265c
    Can i participate in the lottery i have a income.um 51 i just had a stroke.please help me

  11. Where is the link to the Dept of City Planning public comment page? I live in the neighborhood and would like to register my strong opposition. And please give me a break with the “affordable housing” argument. We’ve seen what qualifies as “affordable housing” in these new luxury towers. Developers get tax credits for offering units to people making $80k. Units right across from the parking garage ventilation fans they’d never be able to rent at full price anyway. Please. I can’t believe we’re still talking about this disgusting proposal. No. One. Wants. This.

  12. You have no conscience for the individuals that need affordable housing, which I’m sure this will not be. We all deserve to live in BBC a nice and clean environment. Affordable housing to you is paying $1800 for a studio. Ridiculous!

  13. I live on the neighborhood and would love to see this project move forward

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