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… but downzone’s on the way

The Brooklyn Paper
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Fort Greene and Clinton Hill leaders presented a united front before the City’s Planning Commission on Wednesday — despite some internal squabbling — in a push to get the city to restrict building size in their historic brownstone neighborhoods, the next-to-last step in an arduous process that aims to reduceon overdevelopment.

The Commission’s deliberations — its decision will be announced in early July — come amid feverish growth in the two neighborhoods, with contractors working dawn to dusk to lay foundations before the new zoning restrictions go into effect.

So severe is the sense of urgency pervading the neighborhood, that activists agreed to publicly support the plan, and save their particular complaints for later.

Residents near Fort Greene’s Fowler Square, for example, think their beloved plaza will become a target for developers because the proposed downzoning is more permissive at the intersection of South Elliott Place, Fulton Street, and La­fay­ette Avenue.

“If you want to develop, the city is saying Fowler Square is where you should develop,” said Martin Goldstein, who lives near the plaza. “We saw Fowler Square develop from a red-light district into a walkable square of nice buildings so this sticks in my craw a little bit.”

Unlike the surrounding blocks, where developers will be limited to five-story buildings, developers in Fowler Square will be able to build as high as 80 feet, or eight stories.

That wasn’t the only concession made. Councilwoman Le­titia James (D–Fort Greene) wanted to end a practice that allows developers to build below-market-rate units — which they include in their projects in order to gain city permission to develop taller buildings — off-site.

In the past, James told The Stoop that the policy of off-site affordable units “promoted segregation.” But at a Monday meeting, she said, “I’ve withdrawn my objections because I don’t want to delay this rezoning.”

“This is the best we can do right now, unless we want this plan to go down the drain,” she said.

Updated 4:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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