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Cautionary sale: Builder’s purchase of Bklyn Hospital tower may upset locals against luxe homes on park, civic guru says

In the works: Brooklyn Hospital honchos are finalizing a deal to sell the medical center’s Willoughby Street tower, which overlooks Fort Greene Park and the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, to a Williamsburg-based residential-housing developer.
Brooklyn Paper
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What goes up may not go down easily.

Brooklyn Hospital Center honchos’ imminent deal to sell its Willoughby Street medical tower on Fort Greene Park to a residential-housing developer could stir controversy among residents who oppose bringing a swanky high-rise to the border of the public green space, according to a local civic guru.

Community Board 2’s district manager said that the likelihood of a luxury high-rise replacing the hospital’s Maynard Building may rile Fort Greeners the same way the two towers planned for Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 polarized locals in Brooklyn Heights.

“The analogy is along the lines of some of the residential development on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, where some feel that the park then becomes nothing more than a bunch of rich people’s front yards,” said Rob Perris, whose board also includes Brooklyn Heights. “I think a similar reaction may occur if a residential building is built right next to [Fort Greene Park].”

Williamsburg-based developer Rabsky Group plans to scoop up the crummy 21-story tower between Ashland Place and St. Edwards Street, and will likely raze its doctors’ offices and urgent-care facility in order to build market-rate housing on the site and an adjacent parking lot, according to Crain’s, which first reported on the $100-million deal.

But the builder may first have to apply for a rezoning through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which would then require it to include so-called affordable housing in the project, Crain’s reported.

A source familiar with the transaction confirmed that Brooklyn Hospital’s and Rabsky’s honchos drafted papers for the building’s sale, but said the deal is not yet final. The source couldn’t confirm the price tag, or whether the parking lot next to the Maynard Building is part of the agreement.

Rabsky reps didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Fort Greene medical center put the 1940s brick edifice on the market in 2016, touting a buyer’s chance to erect residences on the lot that would give future occupants an exclusive entrance to meadow. A hospital rep also said a new owner could build a tower that rises even higher than the current building, because its sale includes extra air rights from the main campus.

Cash from the sale will be used to spruce up the current campus, the rep said at the time.

Employees who work in the Maynard Building will pack up and move into six floors of a newly constructed Fulton Street office tower in Downtown following the sale, according to the broker who negotiated the deal for the space, who said it would be ready by the end of the year.

“They have to do construction, the floors are currently raw,” said Robert Hebron from Ingram and Hebron Realty.

The sale of the Brooklyn Hospital building would come months after Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve making over the corner of Fort Greene Park at Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street into a grand entrance leading to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, despite locals’ charges that many residents — including those of the nearby Ingersoll and Walt Whitman public-housing complexes — either weren’t aware of, or on board with, the change.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:49 pm, July 9, 2018: This story has been updated to identify Rob Perris as Community Board 2's district manager.
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Reasonable discourse

PM from Clinton Hill/Ft. Green says:
I see a beautiful historic neighborhood being cannibalized slowly and painfully. I foresee restricted access to areas that have been enjoyed by long time residents. The blatant disregard for the local folks of modest means is a travesty. Where are our local officials elected time after time in all of this?
Feb. 5, 2018, 10:01 am
LK from Fort Greene, Brooklyn says:
Will we now see a privatized entrance for the new residents at the park? This is a continued gentrification of FG Park along with the Plaza hardscape that runs from a new entrance to the monument steps.The point of the changes is to make the park less welcoming to NYCHA residents.
This is not the same as Brooklyn Bridge Park where the private housing is suppose to pay for park maintenance despite the fact that the housing on Pier 6 is not needed financially. However, it was in the plan from the beginning that housing would pay for the park.
No one is suggesting that the new residents would pay for Fort Greene Park-or is that what is coming next?
Feb. 5, 2018, 11:20 am
Jake from Clinton Hill says:
Wow - Brooklyn Paper seems really set on stirring the pot on this one! What a silly comment by the (unnamed) Community Board district manager. People "may" get upset if a residential building is built next to the park. So should it stay an under-used healthcare building? Then the Paper repeats the often refuted canard that the renovations on the north side of the park were made without notice and with intent to harm public housing residents. Look, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have a few professional complainers who will show up to meetings and complain about any change.
Feb. 5, 2018, 12:25 pm
Getting Real in Fort Greene from What Used to be called Brooklyn says:
The fix is in...not a matter of opinion or cranky griping...this is real, good neighbors.

Understand that MARP (the "business improvement district"-aka BID non-profit) is all about their developer Board Members which have included the Red Apple Group. The Red Apple Group whose new luxury buildings are next to the park corner thatis being 'cleaned up' by the Dept of Parks and their disingenuous 'for the community hype'.

The Fort Greene Park Conservancy has sold out those in Public Housing who will be looking at 58 healthy trees chopped down-they made the unholy deal with the Parks Dept-to replace them with...yep...an asphalt corridor they call a plaza...and yes...cop cars can have new 'sight lines'...that's what it's all about. Keeping the new high paying tenants safe from the riff-raff...

No...it's all, about the developers having a cleaned up park so their glamour initiatives-such as Rabsky Group's new Hospital purchase churn and Catsimatidis/Red Apple (big deBlasio contributor!)four Myrtle Ave high rise can enjoy the newly sanitized park...private entrances and all.

Too bad for the NYCHA residents across the street...they never got the city to pay for overdue fixes...for bathrooms they wanted...for playground updates...Nope...when the developers wanted city money...so-called Capital Improvement...why Mayor deBlasio stepped right up.

This is fact and the pols caved.
Feb. 5, 2018, 12:50 pm
Community says:
We are united against homes! This is NOT a neighborhood where HOMES are welcome! Not here, not now, not ever! No homes!
Feb. 5, 2018, 12:54 pm
Old Timer from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Many years ago, I went to Brooklyn Hospital to visit a friend who was seriously hurt in a robbery attempt in that neighborhood. The day of my visit, I witnessed an exchange of gunfire in Ft. Greene Park and later, from the window of my friend's hospital room, I saw a mugging take place in the park. The best thing that ever happened to this neighborhood has been gentrification. The park is safer and better maintained than ever before. Anyone who wants to go back to the "good" old days when the park was home to drug dealers and muggers needs to be examined by a mental health professional.
Feb. 5, 2018, 4:15 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Community makes a strong argument.
Feb. 5, 2018, 10:11 pm
Steve from Fort Greene says:
No one is saying go back to thd bad old days. Is tge choice either neglect and crime or glass towers for the super rich and a redesign of the oark to suit their uber design pretentions. Certainly Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver has advanced the uber gentrification of the park and the streets surrounding. If he could, he would condemn the Whitnan and Ingersoll houses to make way for luxury apartment skyscrapers.
Feb. 6, 2018, 9:57 am
Dave from Bed Stuy says:
God forbid anyone with money moves in. Pu the poor door so it faces the most vocal residents
Feb. 14, 2018, 1:24 pm

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