Proposed Downtown BK Skyscraper Gains Support

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams last night held a public hearing for the proposed Downtown Brooklyn mixed use project, including one of the borough’s tallest buildings to date located at 80 Flatbush Avenue, as part of the city’s public review process (ULURP).

The controversial project includes a one 38-story, 560-foot skyscraper and a 74-story, 986-foot skyscraper that would be home to two public schools, 900 units of affordable (200 of which would be permanently affordable) and market-rate housing, a cultural facility, commercial office and retail space.

A rendering of the proposed 74-story skyscraper proposed for 80 Flatbush Avenue.

At last night’s hearing, the project received support from multiple groups and labor unions including the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s President Regina Myer, who noted the need for housing in the area.

“NYC is in a housing crisis, and the need for affordable housing has never been greater. Of the project’s 900 units of new housing, 200 will be owned and developed by the nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee and permanently affordable to low- and very-low income households earning between 40 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income. This kind of residential development is essential across the city and especially here in Downtown Brooklyn,” said Myer.

The project is expected to create roughly 3,000 jobs, including roughly 1,500 permanent jobs. As such, it has the strong support of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property services workers union in the country.

“The 80 Flatbush project stands as a model of responsible development in our city. By creating good jobs that pay a fair wage and provide good benefits, Alloy Development will help its workers continue to live in, raise their kids in, and retire in New York City.  It is in our common interest to make sure that all city projects are equitable and benefit the entire community,” read a statement from the union at yesterday’s hearing.

Last Thursday, The Arab American Family Support Center (AAFSC) delivered more than 600 petitions to Adams in support for the proposed mixed-use project, that will house one of the City’s first public schools to specialize in Arabic language and studies. The proposal includes a new state-of-the-art Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), one of only three international baccalaureate programs in the city.

Brooklyn Ambassador and AAFSC Chair Joseph Botros, delivered the petitions to Adams’ staff, hoping to ensure a positive recommendation from the boroughs top official.

“Borough President Adams is a longtime champion of the borough’s Arab American community, and we appreciate that he’s taking a thoughtful look at this essential project for our constituents in Downtown and across Brooklyn.  From a new Khalil Gibran, to 200 permanently affordable homes, to 3,000 new jobs, 80 Flatbush provides an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up!” said Botros.

The current KGIA is housed in a 19th century structure that advocates claim is not suitable for contemporary school use. According to the petition, the current KGIA school has no gymnasium or auditorium, an inadequate cafeteria, no assembly space, and inadequate electrical, ventilation, and acoustical systems.

An art rendering street view of the proposed project at 80 Flatbush Avenue.

The school’s new home at 80 Flatbush would increase the school’s capacity from 300 to 350 students and nearly double its physical size, providing a new auditorium, gymnasium and library.  

However, the skyscraping towers have been the target of much push back in the neighborhood, particularly from the brownstone community surrounding the commercial thoroughfare. This includes the Boerum Hill Association, which circulated a petition last year claiming that the proposed project “will not integrate or respect the scale and design of our adjacent brownstone neighborhood.”

The site is bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Schermerhorn Street, 3rd Avenue, and State Street. There are a number of other tall high rises in the area, including One Hanson Place and several buildings in the BAM Cultural District.

When complete, the tallest tower is expected to rise 986 feet above street level. Alloy anticipates construction starting in early 2019. The school is expected to open in 2022, and the full development is expected to finish by 2025.

As part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, Adams will now submit a written recommendation to the City Planning Commission (CPC) ahead of their public hearing in which they will approve, approve with modifications or disapprove the application.

It then moves to the city council for a final vote.  

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