Builder wants Atlantic Avenue tower to be model pedestrian-friendly development on Death Corridor – Streetsblog New York City
A development company wants its proposed tower on Atlantic Avenue to be a model for car reduction, as well as the creation of a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly public space that would help transform the current desert of cars, trucks , empty warehouses and parking lots into an oasis of public space, according to the builders.
EMP Capital has proposed a 17-story, 200-unit mixed-use development at 1034 Atlantic Ave. between Classon and Grand avenues – a stretch of Brooklyn’s longest east-west road that is a three-lane freeway in each direction, plus one lane parking against the sidewalk. The developer hopes to make this area safer and more accessible to pedestrians by widening the sidewalk from the current approximately 12-13 feet to a proposed 20 feet; build swales that would extend the tree pits by 10 feet and remove at least three parking spaces; and even transform the crosswalk on Atlantic and Classon avenues to slow turning traffic.
“It’s a 180 degree change from what’s there, making something pedestrian appealing and a more pleasant place,” said Nick Liberis, the architect of the project, which comprises around 60 units in below the market price. “This street is a major thoroughfare and we think it’s something that could probably be a model for future development.”
But before they begin, developers must obtain rezoning from the City Planning Department for a plan that includes removing the city’s mandatory parking minimums; EMP Capital hopes to include only 20 off-street parking spaces instead of the 90-95 required by the city. This request for a parking waiver follows a recent announcement by a dozen Brooklyn politicians that they would only support developments that apply to such waivers.
Council member Crystal Hudson was one of those politicians to sign the pledge – yet Hudson had previously opposed the project. As she progressed through the city’s land use review process, she urged developers to withdraw their applications to allow for community input. But the developers did not back down and made no physical changes to the project, according to a representative.
While the project awaits a council vote later this spring, Hudson told Streetsblog on Tuesday that she has yet to determine how she will actually vote. The full council generally defers to the local council member for land use matters.
?This morning I said @NYCPlanning that I object to 2 proposed developments at 870-888 & 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue. These projects were certified under the previous CM in a schedule that made it clear that I would have to vote but would not have the chance to be involved from the start.
—Crystal Hudson, Board Member (@CMCrystalHudson) January 5, 2022
Hudson says she supports aspects of the development, such as the plaza and improvements to a dangerous Atlantic Avenue, but added that the entire hallway, not just the block in question, needs an overhaul .
“There are elements that are commendable,” she said. “[But] this area needs a comprehensive plan. We cannot continue to approve things one by one, without taking into account the whole context of the region. If the property at 1034 widens the sidewalk and makes improvements for pedestrians, then what happens to all the blocks to the west and east? We cannot do things one by one.
“I don’t know how I’m going to vote yet,” Hudson added.
Still, a rejection – which is likely due to its previous disapproval and lack of any changes since then – would be disappointing to the project’s proponents who tout improvements to the area’s walk.
“The net effect is a de facto street plaza,” said Liberis, the architect. “We propose to enrich the public sphere.
Like Hudson, Community Board 8 rejected the project last fall in favor of a neighborhood-wide rezoning known as the MCROWN proposal, which would allow for higher development but require space for a light industrial use, according to Brooklyn Paper.
A neighborhood-wide rezoning is still years away, at least. A Department of Planning spokesperson said that over the past few years there has been “ongoing engagement” with Community Councils 8 and 3 to prioritize new housing as well as space that generates growth. jobs, as well as improving infrastructure and the public domain. But that’s all he got, leaving the current mess on Atlantic Avenue.
Liberis and Elie Pariente, the developer of the project, said they wanted to scrap the parking requirement to end this – to help make the area safer and less of a car sewer.
“We don’t want to encourage extra parking [because that would] adding unnecessary traffic to the area,” Pariente said.
And barring large-scale, neighborhood-wide rezoning to eliminate mandatory parking minimums, developers believe their project sets an example for others to come.
“A pilot project for the area if and when city-backed rezoning occurs,” Liberis said.
Builders say they will do all they can to help facilitate a calmer and safer Atlantic Avenue, amid increased traffic violence on the deadly corridor, and as the city is sitting on its own major thoroughfare redevelopment, which is among the top 10% of streets in Brooklyn for serious injuries and fatalities per mile, Streetsblog reported.
“We see pedestrian and bicycle fatalities too often, we take our part very seriously to reduce this,” said Liberis, who added that the developers are working closely with the Ministry of Transport to make the corridor safer. .
DOT spokesman Vin Barone said the agency is “reviewing preliminary plans … at this very early stage in the zoning process.”
The proposed development would also include around 100 bicycle parking spaces inside the building and 30 outside, according to Liberis, which said it was in talks with Oonee, the secure bicycle parking company. And EMP Capital is also looking to include some type of youth or community center as part of the project.
And as part of another rezoning not far from EMP Capital’s project, development company Totem was also seeking city approval just to include bicycle parking in a proposed new building for Atlantic Avenue near Franklin Avenue C and shuttle stations—similarly providing streetscape improvements that the city had failed to make.
The rezoning application for 1034 Atlantic Ave. was conditionally approved by then-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams late last year and by City Planning earlier this year. He is expected to come to the board this spring.