Bigger is better in Fort Greene

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In the midst of one of the most severe economic crises in decades, two real-estate developers are moving ahead, albeit slowly, to build hundreds of new apartment buildings in Fort Greene.

The proposals to rezone manufacturing land for the separate residential projects that will each take up an entire block sailed through Community Board 2 on Wednesday night at Long Island University.

But if there were any reservations, it was from the developers themselves, who are bracing for the credit crunch.

“I’m not at all concerned about where the renters are going to come from,” said Andrew Zobler, CEO of GFI Capital, which wants to build 375 units on a desolate block, bounded by Fulton Street and Atlantic, Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues. “I’m concerned about where the financing will come from.”

The other developer, Martin Dunn, admitted it could be years before there’s a demand for the townhouses he wants to build as part of his 455-unit development called Navy Green, just south of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the part of Fort Greene often called Wallabout.

“We can hold that site for several years right now if we need to,” the homebuilder said.

Their financial headaches notwithstanding, CB2 unanimously voted to support the so-called Navy Green project, which includes 95 supportive housing units, on the block bounded by Flushing, Park, Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues. The two tallest buildings will be 12 stories tall

But the board was bothered by one key element of the plan — parking.

Dunn is not building any off-street parking for the hundreds of new residents, saying that there’s enough capacity on local streets and in nearby garages to handle the influx — an assertion that knocked the wind out of many members.

“Navy Green is a marvelous project, but it’s unrealistic not too have any parking,” said Irene Janner,

CB2 subsequently passed a resolution — advisory, of course, just like its approval — asking the developer to create spaces for the residents.

The other project was even less controversial.

It calls for building 375 apartments in a 12-story structure on the block bounded by Atlantic, Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues and Fulton Street. The builder, GFI Capital, wants to secure a ground floor supermarket for the complex — and speculation has been flying that it will be a major destination grocer.

There’s already a monolithic largely vacant office building on the property that would be retained in the hopes of attracting new tenants. It had once been envisioned as a so-called Telecom Hotel, but the venture foundered and floundered.

“It’s looks like a great project,” said newly minted CB2 member Kenn Lowy. “Except that there is already a glut of buildings that are either half empty of half built.”

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to add in a missing part of Kenn Lowy's quote.
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Reasonable discourse

Kenn Lowy from Brooklyn Heights says:
On June 15th staff writer Mike McLauglin reported that I said a new building in Fort Greene was "a great project'. What he failed to write was that I said this sarcastically and continued by mentioning how many vacant buildings we already have in the area. And asking who he thought was going to live there since there is already a glut of buildings (some left half built)? He then said it keeps him up it night (wondering who will live there).

Quite different from what McLaughlin reported.

Good reporting is hard work. Getting it correct and accurate is apparently even harder.

Kenn Lowy
June 15, 2009, 10:03 am
Benjamin from Park Slope says:
I thank god that this is an issue in Fort Greene. The Department of Homeless Services should work out an arrangement with building owners and allow homeless families to move until they can secure permanent housing.
June 16, 2009, 4:01 pm

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