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80 Flatbush gets approval from City Planning Commission, with no changes; City Council vote is key

The two-tower project 80 Flatbush, in a transitional block between the Central Business District of Downtown Brooklyn and low-rise Boerum Hill, on Monday got unanimous approval, albeit with some concerns expressed, at a City Planning Commission meeting.

“This is an absolutely singular site, located in the heart of my beloved Downtown Brooklyn. It is the very definition of transit-rich, on any list of the top five transit-rich sites, Atlantic Terminal is counted among them,” declared Chairwoman--and mayoral appointee to head the Department of City Planning--Marisa Lago, according to Sam Raskin's PoliticoPro report 8/6/18 (paywalled).

Thus Lago expressed the administration's consistent support for the project, as well as the dubious claim that the location for the project--aimed to include 900 apartments, 200 of them affordable, plus a replacement high school, a new school, office, retail, and cultural space--is "in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn."

The vote contrasts with Borough President Eric Adams' recommendation of relatively modest compromise, as well as Brooklyn Community Board 2's nearly unanimous recommendation to disapprove.

While Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin backs upzoning the lot--the applicants, including the Educational Construction Fund and Alloy Development, seek to nearly triple the buildable floor area, a dramatic jump that exceeds the zoning available in the CBD--she supported Adams's call for a height limit (he said the taller tower, 986 feet, should be 600 feet) and expressed qualms about the timing of the affordable housing, according to Politico.

The key vote will come from the City Council, likely in September, with a committee hearing next week. And the key Council Member, Stephen Levin, told Politico--as he's said before, in my coverage for The Bridge--that he appreciates the project's positive aspects but wonders how to harmonize a smaller proposal with public benefits.

Surely, there's a compromise of sorts in the works. This project is seen as a precursor of sorts for a giant two-tower proposal for Site 5 of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, which, unlike 80 Flatbush, would not have to go through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

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