Neighborhood Matters: Update Fort Greene Land Issue

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142-150 South Portland Avenue

By Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo

The Hanson Place Seventh Day Adventist Church, in partnership with MDG Development Group, is seeking to rezone their land at 142-150 South Portland Avenue from R7A zoning (7-9 stories) to R8A zoning (12-14 stories).

Last week, the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises hosted a public hearing where local community members voiced their opinions in favor and in opposition of the project. More than a dozen came out opposed, and twice as many in favor.

As historical context, the 2007 Fort Greene/Clinton Hill rezoning protected the neighborhood from out of context towers and established height limits relative to the existing scale of the neighborhood. With the 2007 rezoning, South Portland Avenue was zoned R7A, with a height restriction of 7-9 stories. The church’s proposal asks for a rezoning to R8A, which would allow them to develop a building that provides 33% more square footage to accommodate 100% rent-regulated housing (100 units) and maintain community space for use by the church and local organizations.

This proposal is an opportunity to bring much needed 100% rent-regulated housing to our community. It is also an exceptional circumstance in which a longstanding faith-based community organization is pursuing a rezoning application. The Hanson Place Church argues that the R7A zoning does not provide a financially viable opportunity to fit its existing community space within an affordable housing development, while community members who are concerned about this proposal argue that private rezoning applications like this one will chip away at the protections of the 2007 Fort Greene rezoning that the community fought so hard to achieve.

Let me assure you that I’ve heard you all. This moment calls for a delicate balance between observing the fabric of our neighborhood and addressing the dire need for deeply affordable housing. I am mindful of all of the concerns and varying points of view, as well as the detailed recommendation in favor of the rezoning offered by Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams. As I consider potential paths forward, I do understand the community’s concern that the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill rezoning should be respected and development pressure from Downtown Brooklyn should not be allowed to undermine these protections.