Planning panel OKs Downtown Plan

The Brooklyn Paper
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A plan to turn Downtown Brooklyn into a commercial and retail hub with soaring office towers moved one step closer to reality this week.

The City Planning Commission approved the $100 million Downtown Brooklyn Plan Monday. The rezoning and urban renewal plan calls for the construction of 6.7 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail space, 1,000 units of housing and 2,500 parking spaces.

As part of the Downtown Plan, the government would also condemn seven acres of private land including 130 residential units, and 100 businesses.

The City Planning commissioners modified the plan somewhat, removing from it an architectural design college at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Willoughby Street, which was to have been demolished to create a better sight-line from Flatbush Avenue to a planned public square.

The commission also cut out a portion of the plan area that overlaps with developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development, a triangular lot at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues where Ratner would build the tallest of his Frank Gehry-designed towers, a 620-foot-tall skyscraper that would be the tallest building in the borough.

And the commissioners excluded two buildings on Livingston Street near Hanover Place, where Long Island University is looking to build additional classrooms. In another modification, any development on the site at Boerum Place and Fulton Street — which is targeted by the plan for high-rise development — will now have to include 100,000 square feet of higher education space. The site, owned by Brooklyn Law School, is across the street from the college.

While all 13 commissioners voted for the plan, some expressed concerns about traffic, infrastructure, affordable housing and the use of eminent domain to seize private property.

Downtown Brooklyn Councilman David Yassky said he supports the plan but is concerned about traffic and open space.
“I still think there are gaps to be filled,” Yassky said.

The application now goes before the City Council, which has 60 days to hold pubic hearings and vote on the plan.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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