Community Board 3, which serves the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, met for the final monthly meeting at Restoration Plaza last night, Monday, December 5th. Most recently, the chair of the board, Tremaine Wright, was elected to the New York State Assembly for the 56th District of Brooklyn in September. Wright has served on the board for over a decade and was elected chairperson back in 2013.
Items on the agenda for the night included a letter of support for the Riverside Developers USA, Inc., in regards to an application for an amendment of the Zoning Map to change a M1-2 District to an R7A District for property on Flushing Avenue and Franklin Avenue. This is not the first time Riverside has presented their project to the board, but the fifth time as they work their way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which will eventually go on to the Brooklyn Borough President that will need approval by the City Planning Commission and the City Council. The presentation of the most up-to-date site renderings, including changes made by suggestion of the board, were made by Richard Lobel, the lawyer representing Riverside and project architect Nick Labears.
The sites are currently zoned for manufacturing (Flushing Ave.) and commercial/residential (Franklin Ave) to mixed use.
The first site at Flushing Ave. between Kent and Franklin will be a 8-story building with commercial units on the bottom floor and parking off-site. The building will have roughly 168 units with around 50 of the units going to affordable housing. While the Franklin Avenue property will have around 128 units, 40 of them will be going to affordable housing.
The Flushing Avenue site is currently home to the Rose Castle Ballroom, which is a frequent favorite of the Jewish communities in the neighborhood. The new development would force them out and could displace them.
Riverside Developers are going to take advantage of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirement which will allow the developers to get additional floor area in exchange for dedicated affordable housing specifically set out for low-income households.
The requirements for the affordable housing units worried community and board members who felt that the conditions to meet the affordable housing requirements are a biased and inaccurate representation of the household incomes for the area surrounding the proposed residential sites. For a studio unit with an AMI at 80% (Adjusted Median Income) is $48,000, rent would be $1,200 for a household of 3 (2 adults, 1 child); at 80% AMI would be $62,000 with rent for a 2-bedroom at $1,500.
The motion was eventually denied by a vote of 18 in favor, 17 not in favor and 2 abstentions, which means the application was given a negative recommendation by the board.
The Riverside Developers will now have to go back and make revisions to their housing project plan and present it again to the community board in a public hearing. The board will have to adopt their plan in order for them to move onto the next step in the ULURP process which is having a review by the Borough President and the Community Board.
There is no limit to the amount of times that you can present to the Community Board but the ULURP process takes an average of a year to complete once all required community and elected offices have approved the application.
Also on the agenda was a letter of support for an Alcohol Beverage Control License by new business Cafe Erzulie, which will be located on Broadway between Stockton and Lewis Avenue. The proposed restaurant and bar will be based on the flavors and culture of Haiti and will be located on the back half of the already-existing business Flowers by Leslie. The two businesses will share a space with customers entering through the flower shop and then passing through to the cafe. The eatery will feature a reasonably priced menu with breakfast and lunch options and cocktails, beer and wine for late night. Most of the menu options were $10 or less and will be open during the week as early as 7am and close at 1am and weekends will be open until 2am.
The flower shop eatery combination will be similar to the Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop in Ditmas Park, which has been successfully operating both businesses for the past couple of years.
The motion was eventually passed with 29 in favor, 2 against and 1 abstention.
Flateau Elected New Chair
After almost three hours, the Community Board was finally able to vote on the new chair to replace Wright. The two candidates up for the position were Richard Flateau, founder and broker at Flateau Realty as well as economic development chair, and Kimberly Hill, current executive secretary.
Newly elected Flateau didn’t have a lot to say about his new position or on his future agenda yet but he did mention that “he hoped to serve and honor the trust the board put in him” and that for now he is “just going to watch and observe what is going on in different committees” before he pushes for any major changes in the community.
Other positions that were also up for election included 1st Vice Chairperson, 2nd Vice Chairperson, Treasurer and Executive Secretary which were won by Oma Holloway, Nelson M. Stoute, Cynthia Doris Pinn and Stacey Ruffin, respectively.