‘HOTEL HARVEY’ Developer pays $12M for 3 lots next to BAM’s Fulton St. theater

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A developer has quietly bought up property next to a Brooklyn Academy of Music theater, planning what neighbors believe will be a high-rise hotel and condo.

Manhattan-based developer The Clarett Group paid $12 million for three lots at the northwest corner of Fulton Street and Ashland Place, an assemblage that abuts the four-story BAM Harvey Theater.

Under the current C6-4 commercial zoning for that block, a more than 20-story hotel, office tower or mall could be built. The equivalent residential zoning, should a zoning change or variance be granted, could support up to a 30-story tower.

The Clarett Group did not return calls seeking comment for this article, but the company, which has built four tower-style, luxury residences in Manhattan since 2003, has in the past developed atop old theaters and church space. Several sites were in high-demand areas where they bought a large building, demolished it, and made room for a high-density residential tower.

The first project demolished the Olympia Theater at Broadway and 107th Street in Manhattan and built the 22-story Opus, a 64-unit building with family-sized luxury condominiums.

The company has since purchased the Sutton Theater, on West 57th Street, for its 36-story Place 57.

The Church of the Transfigur­ation’s parish house, a Gothic-revival building adjacent to the church at East 29 Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, will make way for a 54-story tower called Sky House, while the church offices will move into the new building’s lower floors.

It seems no surprise then, that the new property acquisition is concentrated around the Harvey Theater.

“We would never sell that building,” BAM spokeswoman Sandy Sawotka said, laughing at the notion when told this week about the Clarett Group’s acquisitions.

Meanwhile, the leases of commercial tenants in the two- and three-story properties at 657-671 Fulton St. have been bought out since the Clarett Group purchased the properties in June.

“We weren’t approached about the Harvey,” Sawotka said, adding that she had heard talk about the move-outs. “We’re not involved, because it’s a private developer. They’ll build around us.”

Wendy Chanelis, who owns Yoga People’s Hot Yoga studio, wrote a farewell that she posted on the yoga studio’s Web site, thanking her clients.

“Our building on Fulton Street in Fort Greene, along with the rest of the block, is being torn down to make way for a big new hotel/condo. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all your support since our opening in 2002,” the posting reads.

Ruth West, owner of Ruthie’s Restaurant, at 96 DeKalb Ave., had already been issued permits to renovate space in one of the Fulton Street properties, where she had hoped to move her soul food restaurant, when she learned the building had been sold.

“We were supposed to have been here, but we are not going to be going there now,” said West this week. “Every person on that block has moved out, except the BAM Theater — they weren’t going to sell.”

West said she heard that condominiums would rise on the properties.

“There is not one person on that block. It’s gone. That block is sold — the whole block. The church, the bar, there is nothing there,” she said.

“We’re troubled with all the development that’s going all around Fort Greene, with the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Atlantic Yards, and Downtown Brooklyn being rezoned,” said Phillip Kellogg, president of the Fort Greene Association. “It’s going to be right across the street from what the BAM Local Development Corporation is going to be doing.”

The current plans for the BAM LDC’s Cultural District include arts space, housing and retail developments over four parcels of land just south of the Fulton-Ashland development site.

“We’ve heard it’s apartments,” Kellogg said, but added that since it was outside of the residentially zoned area his organization is trying to preserve as low-rise row-houses, many of them brownstones, he didn’t have much information on the Fulton-Ashland site.

Although no permit applications have been filed with the Department of Buildings, neighbors are convinced the buildings next to the Harvey Theater will be demolished.

An assistant for Community Board 2 said the board had not yet received any applications for variances to the zoning on that block.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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