Slope group comes out against tower near BBG
by Melissa Goldin
May 09, 2018 | 906 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Park Slope Civic Council’s trustees voted on May 3 to oppose a proposed rezoning that would allow for the construction of a high-rise next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and are calling for local community groups to do the same.

A venture led by Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company and Joel Bergstein’s Lincoln Equities Group, the one-million-square-foot project includes buildings that would reach up to 37 stories, according to a pre-application statement filed with the Department of City Planning (DCP) in December.

Residents fear the structures would cast large shadows over the garden, intruding upon its peaceful atmosphere and creating adverse environmental impacts.

“The garden is a green oasis enjoyed by Brooklyn residents and visitors, and the scale and shadows of this development would forever undermine the sense of isolation from its urban context that are now enjoyed by users of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden,” read a post on the Park Slope Civic Council's website.

DCP rezoned the area in 1991, prohibiting buildings of more than seven stories after the garden raised concerns about a 13-story tower. The pre-application statement, which seeks to change the existing limits, is an indication that a formal rezoning application is to come.

If DCP certifies the formal application, the City Council will vote on the project after a six-month land use review process.

Since news of the development, which would be bound by Washington Avenue, Sullivan Place, Franklin Avenue and Montgomery Place, broke last fall, numerous local groups have fought against it.

A petition on Change.org opposing the project has garnered more than 5,000 signatures and an online fundraiser has raised nearly $3,000 to help fund a professional environmental analysis, which would include an in-depth shadow study.

Residents also staged a rally outside of the garden in April.

“[The Council’s] a pretty powerful group in Park Slope,” Alicia Boyd, co-founder of The Movement to Protect the People, said of the Council’s decision. “It makes a difference, but how effective that’s going to be remains to be said.”

According to a Brooklyn Botanic Garden spokesperson, the garden has shared its “strong concerns” about the development with the city, which owns the garden’s land, and has kept the city up-to-date on potential shadows that would negatively affect its collections and programs.

Boyd said the garden has promised to meet with concerned community groups, but that they have not spoken yet.

“Brooklyn Botanic Garden takes very seriously any developments that may adversely impact the garden’s priceless living collections,” the spokesperson said. “We are deeply committed to protecting the integrity and the beauty of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a source of learning and inspiration for our community and beyond. We continue to monitor this project closely and plan to inform the garden’s community of our strategy in due course.”

Cornell Realty Management withdrew plans for two 16-story towers on the property last year after the firm met community resistance over similar concerns.

Bergstein declined to comment on the Council’s decision and Continuum Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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