Developers hoping to enlarge an Emmons Avenue medical building to accommodate more employees — while also shrinking its parking garage — have a month to prove the parking-space-killing plan isn’t bonkers if they want the local community board’s backing.
Critics got into heated back-and-forth with the building owner’s attorneys when they asked Community Board 15 to support the proposal on Nov. 17. Scaling back the garage will send even more of the facility’s hundred workers looking for spaces on the street, where locals have enough trouble as it is finding somewhere to leave their cars, detractors said.
“We have parking problems there,” said Kathy Flynn, President of Sheepshead Bay Plumb Beach Civic Association. “Sometimes you might have to take bus service to get back to your car, because you have to park on the other side of the parkway, so now you’re talking a six- to eight-block walk to get back to your house. We have a lot of senior citizens in the area, and this is not good for them.”
But the owner’s attorney fired back that the building and its dozens of employees are not the problem.
“This building is not the issue that is causing the parking problem,” said zoning lawyer Eric Palatnik, who claimed many of the employees work remotely in area convalescents’ homes but conversely said building owners want to expand the structure to accommodate more workers.
Palatnik’s client is seeking a special permit to enlarge the second floor and build a third floor of the building between Ford and Coyle streets to accommodate the building’s 111-and-growing workforce, he said. The land is zoned for residential and commercial uses, and the building was erected in 1991, city records show. Codes determining the minimum size of parking spaces have changed since then to require roomier spots, and law compels property owners to bring garages up to code during major construction, Palatnik said. Making the garage code-compliant necessitates the owner reduce the number of parking spaces from 44 to 32, he said.
A contractor that property owners hired to conduct a parking study claimed the garage was under-used and only housed about 10 cars per day, but skeptical board members are demanding the city conduct a survey asking every Prime Home Health employee how they get to work and if they know they can park in the garage before casting their votes. Palatnik agreed to the demands and said he will present the findings at the board’s next general meeting.
The clock is ticking, though. The city gave the board 60 days to issue a recommendation on the issue, but the next general board meeting won’t take place until Dec. 15 — two days after the deadline. If the city refuses to grant an extension, the proposal will continue through the approval process without any say from the board.