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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + project FAQ (pinned post)

On Dean and Bergen streets, photos and videos suggest shifting context for proposed city housing; neighbors' group seeks "holistic review," as HPD offers new images

My annotation of HPD image
What's the context in North Prospect Heights? Well, it varies considerably, depending where you look, and from what angle. 

Four stories seems the plurality among older buildings, but some are underbuilt, at two stories, and others are outliers, rising nine stories. 

Meanwhile, the nearby Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, changes the scale completely. That, depending on your perspective, suggests that there's no reason to conserve context--or, alternatively, that this section of Prospect Heights has already absorbed its fair share. 

Note that this section is not necessarily representative of the full neighborhood, which includes low-rise historic blocks to the southeast, as well as clusters of large apartment buildings near Grant Army Plaza and on Eastern Parkway.

HPD's new plans
North from Sixth Ave./Bergen St.,
38 Sixth and (rising) 18 Sixth

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) plans two new permanently affordable housing buildings at 516 Bergen Street (Site A, a low-slung commercial building) and 542 Dean Street (Site B, a parking lot), both between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

They each could rise nine stories, under a potential rezoning, far larger than their immediate neighbors but not dwarfing the storage building on the north side of Bergen (annotated above with oval) or the Newswalk condo building on the north side of Dean (arrow). See my previous coverage, including of a contentious online meeting.

HPD has posted a video of that meeting, as well as a copy of the presentation, which is embedded below. The next session is an interactive Urban Design Workshop tomorrow, Nov. 18, limited to 75 people. (Another might be held, if it's oversubscribed.)

While "participants will be asked to give their feedback on the non-residential uses, affordability and design features they feel should included in these projects," many (but not all) immediate neighbors are resistant at what seems like a fait accompli to upzone the two sites--and, likely, to upzone upzone a larger section of the neighborhood, as discussed below.


The North Prospect Heights Association (NPHA) points to the larger context, an enormous amount of development associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, less than a block away.

HPD's survey, with new images

HPD has also posted a survey "to provide feedback on the affordable housing program, community uses, and design features you think should be considered on these sites." 

Input will be summarized and presented on 12/10/20 at Community Board 8's General Board Meeting.

HPD "story map"
Currently, about 58 “affordable homes can be built on each site,” according to HPD, but a larger building not only lowers per-unit costs, it allows social services, common spaces, and accessibility features. 

The Bergen Street site is about 17,051 square feet and the Dean Street site 17,145 square feet; each could accommodate about 85 apartments, after a zoning change. HPD recommends meeting the entire commitment of 80-100 senior homes on this site.

HPD has also posted a crowd-sourced "story map" (screenshot at right) regarding the two sites and the neighborhood: "Comment on the map to tell us about places that can connect to your vision for the sites and/or places you think are essential for understanding the area." 

Nine-story buildings

From HPD
The project page states that HPD is proposing R7A zoning, given "the close proximity to the Flatbush corridor which has an R7A zoning designation and the immediate surroundings where there are several nine-story and above buildings." 

Then again, the immediate context, on Bergen Street for example, is low-slung buildings and four story-apartments, as shown in the photo below.

The project page adds:
An R7A zoning designation is limited to eight stories and can be designed to make the buildings feel in context with the surrounding environment. For example, stepping the buildings back at certain heights would make the buildings feel in context to other buildings along Bergen Street and Dean Street.
Just east of 516 Bergen,
 plus a sliver of that building
That will be a matter of debate. The survey says that the Bergen Street "building can be as tall as 9 floors high but can be designed to feel more in context with the neighborhood by setting back at the 7th floor."

The nine-story options--one with a greater height flush to the street, and another with modified setbacks, pictured above--add elements of context.

But it's tough to say they're in context with the neighboring buildings shown at left--hence the questions about a larger upzoning.

The Dean Street design

From HPD
Similarly, the Dean Street "building can be as tall as 9 floors high but can be designed to feel more in context with the neighborhood by setting back at the 7th floor."

It offers two example, again one with greater height at the street. 

The lower-height version looks to be about six stories, while most buildings to the east, as shown in the photo below, are about four stories.

Other questions

Regarding the Bergen Street site, respondents were asked which household incomes should be prioritized, from extremely low-income households (earning up to $30,720 for a household of 3) to moderate income households (earning up to $112,640 for a household of 3). 

Looking east at 542 Dean St.
from Dean Playground
They were asked whether it should be rental affordable housing to serve households with much lower incomes, or homeownership affordable housing to allow households to build equity and wealth.

For both buildings, respondents were asked what type of community spaces and services, and retail and commercial businesses, are needed. They were asked how art and culture might be incorporated, and what public space amenities might be added.

They were also asked about their concerns regarding climate change and social and cultural resilience, as well as what community facility and/or commercial uses are not needed or are over-represented, and what community needs have arisen or worsened due to COVID-19.

NPHA concerns

A larger upzoning seems likely--the question is scope. 

The North Prospect Heights Association, which represents residents of the immediate blocks, recently posted its take:
We support the creation of deeply affordable senior housing on the Bergen and Dean HPD sites.
As members of a community already heavily impacted by massive redevelopment, we deserve a broad holistic review of any zoning changes on the HPD sites, to be conducted in the context of the larger M-Crown rezoning effort.
It feels dismissive to ask for “community input” on a project when the City may already have a clear idea of what will be in the RFP and the extent of the rezoning. 
The NPHA thus suggests, as shown in the image above right, that the potential upzoning arena would extend slightly east along Bergen Street--note the low-slung buildings adjacent to the publicly-owned site--but otherwise go west to Sixth Avenue and down to Flatbush Avenue.

The larger context, as the NPHA image below suggests, is Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with a significant amount of completed, under-construction, and expected development. (Here's my map.) 

I'd add that there are multiple other new or expected projects at edge of this map, such as a tower at the northeast corner of Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, and a new six-story residential building on Pacific Street just east of Vanderbilt.


I recently walked on Dean and Bergen streets to get a sense of those blocks, and the specific sites' relationship to larger buildings, and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

So my photos, and videos below, aim to fill out the context a bit more.

On Bergen Street

Looking south to 516 Bergen

A few buildings east of 516 Bergen

Just east of 516 Bergen, plus a sliver of that building

Looking west to 516 Bergen; note nine-story storage building on north side


On Dean Street

Looking west to intersection of Dean St. & Sixth Ave. 461 Dean St. & 38 Sixth Ave. on north

Looking east at 542 Dean St.; 535 Carlton Ave. in background

Looking northeast at 542 Dean St.; Newswalk condo building in background

Looking west from Dean Playground to three Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers; B15 nearest