Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Brighton Beach to Get the Treatment from the City Too

January 21st, 2009 · 8 Comments

While most of the attention is focused on Coney Island, Brighton Beach, which has seen its share of out-of-context development is up for a rezoning. About 50 blocks of the neighborhood with either be upzoned or downzoned, with the city preferring to dwell on protecting block where bungalows have been demolished to build some fairly nasty Finger Buildings. Whie one my agree or disagree with the thrust of the city rezoning’s (there is good and bad to all of them), the sheer scope of the territory that the Department of City Planning has managed to tackle in the first two Bloomberg terms is astounding. The rezoning area covers some 50 blocks generally bounded by Ocean Parkway to the west, Shore Parkway to the north, Brighton Beach Avenue to the south and Corbin Place and Cass Place to the east. (The city’s material on the rezoning is here.) Per a city press release, “The existing built character within the rezoning area primarily consists of lower-density homes between one and three stories tall, with larger apartment buildings ranging from four- to 13-stories located along major avenues and in the eastern portion of the area. Notable within the rezoning area is an approximately 9 block area of small, distinctive, one- to two-story bungalow-style cottages, many of which are arranged along narrow pedestrian lanes. The neighborhood is served by a thriving commercial corridor along Brighton Beach Avenue and by retail along Neptune and Coney Island Avenues.”

Here is most of the release:

City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden today announced the beginning of public review for the Department’s comprehensive rezoning proposal to protect the character of the Brighton Beach neighborhood in Brooklyn. This effort was undertaken at the strong request of the local community, Community Board 13 and local elected officials and developed with their input. City Planning’s fine-grained proposal would prevent future out-of-scale development, create innovative zoning solutions to recognize the unique character of Brighton’s bungalows, establish height limits for the first time, and provide modest opportunities for growth as well as incentives for the provision of affordable housing.

“City Planning’s 50 block rezoning proposal will preserve the scale of this unique community by removing the incentive to demolish one- and two- family homes in order to build multi-family residential buildings” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden “The proposal will update decades old zoning to better reflect the built fabric and allow for predictable development that reinforces Brighton Beach’s special character and strengthens neighborhood commercial corridors.”…The current zoning is almost exclusively R6 with portions of two blocks covered by C8-1 in the northeastern corner of the neighborhood along Neptune Avenue. Recent development trends have included the construction of buildings that are out of context with the existing built character due to outdated zoning that has remained in place since 1961. Current zoning has no prescribed height limits and has resulted in the replacement of existing smaller homes with new construction ranging from 6-story apartment buildings to 13-story residential towers.

City Planning’s carefully crafted proposal would:

* Protect the established built character of Brighton’s lower-density areas primarily containing one-, two- and three-family homes, by rezoning approximately 35 blocks within the rezoning area with lower density contextual zoning districts allowing 3 to 4 story buildings (R4A, R5, R5D; height limits of 35 feet, 40 feet and 40 feet, respectively)
* Create innovative zoning regulations that recognize the unique character of the bungalow area in Brighton Beach while also creating incentives that seek to establish a regular pattern of development, maximizing the provision of full-size rear yards and access to the services of streets.
* Establish a sensible framework for modest growth and the creation of affordable housing by mapping R7A in densely built residential areas and along wide streets and commercial corridors. R7A is proposed for Neptune and Coney Island Avenues, and Brighton Beach Avenue east of Coney Island Avenue, buildings in these areas would be allowed a maximum height of 80 feet, or about eight stories.
* Implement modified R7A and C4-4A regulations to address the unique character of Ocean Parkway and Brighton Beach Avenue with special height and setback rules.
* Map C4-4A with special regulations to allow a maximum height of 100 feet, or about 10 stories after a lower than usual setback requirement at 30 to 40 feet to reflect the presence of the elevated train tracks and platform and ensure sufficient light and air for the adjacent buildings along Brighton Beach Avenue between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue.
* Reflect the grand scale of development along the 210 foot wide Ocean Parkway and the unique context of very deep lots and large front yards by mapping R7A with special regulations. Development on Ocean Parkway would be allowed to rise to a maximum height of 125 feet, or about 12 stories.
* Provide incentives for the development and preservation of affordable housing along Ocean Parkway, Brighton Beach Avenue, Coney Island Avenue and Neptune Avenue using the inclusionary housing program. Under this program buildings can only achieve the maximum allowable density if they provide 20 percent of their floor area as permanently affordable housing, subject to the overall height limit. Tax abatements and public financing provide an added incentive for the use of the inclusionary program.
* Reinforce neighborhood commercial corridors by mapping commercial zoning districts and overlays to reflect the current extent of retail activity in the area.

The community board now has 60 days to review the proposal, after which it will go to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council as part of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). For specifics of the zoning proposal or more details on the ULURP timeline, please visit the DCP website.

If you made it through that all, God be with you, but it’s important stuff especially in a neighborhood where overdevelopment has been ignored by virtually everyone, including bloggers.

Tags: Brighton Beach · Rezoning · Uncategorized

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jack // Jan 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Excellent news for once! The fact they want to preserve the unique lanes/alleys of Brighton Beach is 100% awesome! It’s such a unique thing.

    Let’s hope this inspires some nice development.

  • 2 Time for Some Brighton Beach Memoirs - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com // Jan 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    […] the path of Coney Island, about 50 blocks of Brighton Beach are set for the city’s rezoning treatment. [Gowanus […]

  • 3 Mikhail Koulikov // Jan 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    …except most of the people actually *living* in the neighborhood now would be all too glad to see the bungalows torn down and replaced with something respectable-looking that we can buy into. And the “finger buildings” – those aren’t harboring hipsters, rather, they are attracting actual current neighborhood residents who otherwise, would be looking at LI and Staten Island and Bergen County.

  • 4 Scott // Jan 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I find it disheartening that everyone is so quick to disregard the character of Brighton Beach and Coney Island (i.e. the small bungalows and what makes them original) in order to try to make money with highrise housing. When the housing is there and all you see are Starbucks, Chase banks, Duane Reades, and other clone chain stores, people will no longer bother going there and it will become a generic, bland area.

  • 5 JP // Jan 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    What, exactly, is “overdevelopment” in NYC? We have a serious housing shortage issue in the city. I’m not proposing that every block be zoned to allow 10+ stories, but we need to think more about what effect downzonings have had on the ability to develop the amount of housing that is needed in NYC, especially the areas that have good access to transit.

  • 6 Cydney // Jan 22, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Scott nailed it on the head. What Mikhail doesn’t understand is that gentrification puts the community at risk. If the stores on Brighton Beach Avenue get priced out and replaced with chain stores, the Russian vibe of the nabe is GONE. It will lose its uniqueness and will become another “Manhattan”.

  • 7 DJ // Jan 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    littlerus.com has covered this for OVER 6 months….so blogs ignored? you just don’t read them.

  • 8 The Truth // Mar 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Who in the world would like to keep the Bungalows. walk in that area at night. AND come back and say if you want to keepo the back ALLEY-WAYS. the new generation does not those ugly old smelly DOG HOUSES. the OLD generation of Brighton Beach who are dying out are trying to keep it. Development is the best thing that happend to Brighton Beach. Unless you want the DRUGs and SROs. Crack Houses.