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Developers offer school at Sunset Park mega-project

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Developers say they want to include a school in their plan for a massive mixed-use complex in Sunset Park.

A consortium of investors aims to build a shopping mall, a hotel, two residential towers, and an office building on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 62nd Street. At a Nov. 5 meeting of the local community board’s land use committee, the project’s architect, Raymond Chan, said his clients are willing to set aside space for a public school. Board members said the additional desks would be a boon for the crowded school district.

“We’ve been looking for school sites desperately,” said education committee chairman Bob Hudock. “They are very needed, especially in that neighborho­od.”

A majority of District 20’s 37 public elementary schools are over-capacity, he said. And four of the most overcrowded schools, where enrollment is at least 150 percent capacity, are clustered within a mile of the proposed development site, Department of Education data show.

The site is about the size of three football fields, and Chan’s tower plan would create 1.1 million square feet of floor area — a bit less than half the space in the Empire State Building — including a mall, 150 hotel rooms, 350 apartments, and office space.

Chan envisions setting aside more than a football-field-sized chunk of that area for a specialized school, he said.

“We want a high-tech elementary school there,” Chan said.

A Department of Education spokesman declined to comment on the plan, saying the city does not negotiate in public.

Chan said the Schools Construction Authority is sharing its building requirements with his office, but declined to elaborate further.

The plan hinges on city approval.

The lot is zoned for manufacturing, and the city gave the site’s previous owner a variance to build an 11-story apartment building above a Home Depot in 2007. But Chan’s plans far exceed the current variance, and he would need to go through a lengthy public review process for a new, expanded variance before breaking ground. Chan is asking the city to renew the current variance because he’ll have a tougher time securing the larger variance he needs if the existing one lapses, his attorneys said.

The City Planning Commission and the Council have the final say on whether to issue variances, and the community board only plays an advisory role, but Chan appeared before the land use committee to keep lines of communication open, he said.

Committee members liked the school proposal but were cautious, noting that developers often dangle gifts in front of the community only to snap them away after the city issues a variance.

“It’s not a commitment. It’s just an idea,” said committee member Joanne Seminara.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to reflect that the City Planning Commission must approve the special permit the developers are seeking, not the Department of City Planning. The Department must review the plan and will ultimately issue the permit.
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Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
Better build fast before the Chinese economic bubble burst, then there won't be needed funding from China
Nov. 13, 2014, 7:54 am
da editah says:
Actually, no, the Department of City Planning has no say in the matter. You are thinking of the City Planning Commission. However, the word "variance" is used repeatedly and that term is usually associated with the Board of Standards and Appeals. So which is it? A zoning change or a variance? And while it is fine to use a term like, 'the local community board,' you have to say which one at some point in the article. I only figured it out because Joanne Seminara has been a long time member of Community Board 10. The Brooklyn Paper, finishing school for student journalists.
Nov. 13, 2014, 12:32 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
I do not believe a mall development is in the interest of anyone in the community, including the small business owners, who will be adversely affected. And enough with counting on private development to building schools. We are talking about PUBLIC schools? The city owns land and buildings, and holds the power of eminent domain. Build the damn schools! Where is the mayor? Why is it business as usual? Why do we have to give public assets (here a variance or zoning change) to private investors to receive what is an inherent right to send our children to public school? Can we assume they also want a tax abatement to pay for their private development? Wake up people.
Nov. 13, 2014, 1:05 pm
Sean from Bensonhurst says:
The city just spent several years (and who knows how much money) building a brand new school at Fort Hamilton Pkwy and 62nd Street - just two blocks from this building site. If there remains a need for more schools in the neighborhood, someone involved in planning these school constructions needs to spend some time on the unemployment lines.
Nov. 13, 2014, 1:18 pm
joe from blow says:
@MJ, better to take the time to do it right, as China owns a considerably sized bulk of our debt
Nov. 13, 2014, 5:24 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Said Sean: "The city just spent several years (and who knows how much money) building a brand new school at Fort Hamilton Pkwy and 62nd Street" AND at 63rd Street and 4th Avenue AND Ovington and Fourth Avenues. OLPH is still running its grammar school at 6th Avenue and 59th-60th Streets. There is no way that building is full, and the school is probably barely hanging on. How about looking into renting space there is more school rooms are needed?
Nov. 13, 2014, 9:55 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
*if
Nov. 13, 2014, 11:41 pm

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