After much backlash from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and several community members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Lightstone Group has decided to abandon its proposed “minor modification” in favor of keeping the as-of-right design for its Gowanus Canal-side development that is in compliance with the rezoning passed in 2009.
Today the New York City Department of City Planning gave Lightstone the greenlight to move ahead with its 700-unit residential development on the Gowanus. The “Minor Modification” would have used a waiver to extend the depth in the rear yard. And while the design initially won the community board’s support, the damage and flooding from Hurricane Sandy in the area generated concern and protest among some residents.
Right as the New York City Housing Authority goes public with its controversial plan to allow developers to build high rises in the middle of public housing developments, the Brooklyn Public Library is taking a similar approach with the hope of mitigating its ongoing financial struggles. The New York Times reports that the library plans on selling off the land beneath two of its branches—The Brooklyn Heights Library at Cadman Plaza and the Pacific Library on Fourth Avenue—to developers who will then tear down the buildings and carve out space for them on the ground floor of their new residential towers.
The contaminated waters of the Gowanus Canal—nor the threat of flooding from future storms like Hurricane Sandy—are deterring developers from building right up on the canal’s edge. In fact, a new swanky boutique hotel is about to wash up on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. This comes at a time when several new hotels are in the works for Brooklyn over the next few years, including the Rockwell Place Hotel in the Brooklyn Downtown Cultural District and Selldorf Architect’s revival of the Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn Heights.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard has emerged as one of those rare, post-industrial-era success stories. The former shipyard, which closed in 1966, is now home to a mix of industries such as construction, cleantech, metal fabrication, film production, design, contracting, and even urban agriculture. The Wall Street Journal reported that the non-profit Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. will soon announce an $80 million renovation of Building 77, a monolithic concrete former ammunition depot and the largest structure on the 300-acre park.
Last fall Hurricane Sandy swept through New York with a vengeance, knocking down more than 8,000 trees city-wide, and over 300 in Brooklyn’s Olmsted-designed Prospect Park alone. But now, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has teamed up with tree house architect Roderick Wolgamott-Romero to give a hand full of these damaged trees a second chance at life.
While Hurricane Sandy hasn’t slowed development in some parts of Brooklyn, it has delayed the groundbreaking of the Roger Marvel Architects-designed hotel and residential complex at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park called the Pierhouse. The New York Post reported that the project was originally slated to begin construction this month, but Toll Brothers, the developer, said they will hold off until the redesign of the 159-apartment and 200-room hotel complex is updated with measures meant to protect against future storm surges. Changes include elevating the building three feet, adding steps and ramps to the lobby, and placing the mechanical systems on the roof. This development is paying for a considerable portion—about $3.3 million—of the park’s $16 million annual maintenance budget. Nearby, plans for a velodrome proposed for the park were scrapped in part due to potential flooding of the site.
Even though Brooklyn has morphed into a hub of cultural activity, there has been a notable shortage of hotels to serve the spike in visitors, especially in south Brooklyn. But this will soon change. The New York Post reported that a new 200-room hotel, designed by Thomas Leeser, is in the works for the Brooklyn Downtown Cultural District, which recently saw plans for new towers by TEN Arquitectos.
The hotel, with asymmetrical splits in the facade, will replace a five-story building at 95 Rockwell Place, and include a basement performance space, a rooftop bar, a banquet hall, and a restaurant that looks onto an outdoor arts plaza. It will be in a prime location—right next to The Theater for a New Audience and close to a 32-story mixed-use complex from Two Trees and a 50,000-square-feet cultural space that will be occupied by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library.
Developer Second Development Services (SDS) predicts they will break ground next fall and complete construction within two years.
Five firehouses, built over a century ago, were granted landmark status yesterday. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved each of these five buildings for what Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney characterized as “a clear expression of civic spirit and pride of purpose that existed at the time they were built and continue to this day in our City’s municipal architecture.” Read More
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is expanding its programming to the streets of Fort Greene. Brownstoner reported that the multi-arts center is proposing a series of temporary murals in front of an empty lot at 31 Lafayette Avenue, across from one of its performing arts spaces, the Howard Gilman Opera House. BAM plans to launch the program with a mural by Brooklyn artist KAWS, and then invite other local talent to display their art. There will also be space made for more of David Byrne’s sculptural, letter-shaped bike racks akin to the ones he designed in front of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Community Board 2 will vote on the art wall tomorrow.
Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level.
Atlantic Avenue is one step closer to getting its Funderpass. The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) just announced a Request for Proposals to redesign the space below the drab BQE underpass to create a more pedestrian-friendly connection between the shops and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The RFP encourages respondents to “partner with another organization such as a lighting designer, landscape firm, or graphic design firm to broaden the expertise of the team you submit to us.”
Last December, AN reported that the Atlantic Avenue BID received a $75,000 grant from the NYC Department of Small Business Services for this project. The deadline for the RFP is February 26th, 2013.
It looks like South Brooklyn will have plenty of new condos, but perhaps a dearth of services. This morning, the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) voted unanimously to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill. According to DNAinfo, Downstate Medical Center president Dr. John Williams told the board that the hospital “was losing money and draining the entire Downstate system.” Protests ensued at the public hearing from doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. The 200,000-square-foot campus could have a price tag of up to $500 million.