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March 18, 2013

Rachaele Raynoff (City Planning) -- (212) 720-3471


March 18, 2013 – City Planning Commission Chair Amanda M. Burden today announced the beginning of public review for a 55-block rezoning of the western part of the Crown Heights neighborhood in Community District 8 in Brooklyn. This rezoning proposal was undertaken at the request of Community Board 8 and local elected officials to maintain the neighborhood’s character, to promote affordable housing, and strengthen commercial strips. 

The residential portions of Crown Heights are comprised primarily of three- and four-story multi-family walk-up apartment buildings and row houses as well as several six- to seven-story multi-family apartment buildings. The vibrant commercial streets of Franklin Avenue and Nostrand Avenue are mostly made up of three- to four-story walk-up residential buildings with ground floor retail.  The zoning proposal will reinforce the character of the neighborhood by establishing building height limits and tailoring commercial overlays in the area to better reflect commercial activity and to inhibit commercial encroachment onto residential streets. The proposal will also allow for modest residential growth with incentives for affordable housing development through the Inclusionary Housing Program along parts of Franklin Avenue and Bedford Avenue.

Commissioner Burden said, “The rezoning of western Crown Heights builds on our commitment to protecting the character of Brooklyn’s distinctive residential neighborhoods.  This comprehensive rezoning proposal, developed in close consultation with the community and elected officials, will reinforce the neighborhood’s historic brownstone and row house blocks.  It will also ensure new development is appropriately scaled along the area’s transit rich corridors and provides opportunities for affordable housing in select locations.”

The rezoning area is located in the western part of Crown Heights and is bounded by Pacific Street, Dean Street, and Bergen Street to the north; Nostrand Avenue to the east; Eastern Parkway to the south, and Washington Avenue and Grand Avenue to the west.

The majority of these zoning districts (R6, R7-1, C1-3, C2-3, C4-3, and C8-2) have been in place since 1961 when the current Zoning Resolution was established, and do not closely reflect the prevailing context in terms of scale, height, and building type.  For example, the existing R6 zoning designation, the predominant zoning in the area, does not impose a maximum building height and has allowed the development of 12- to 14-story buildings that are out-of-scale with the overall neighborhood character of three- to four-story buildings in the larger portion of the area and six- to seven-story buildings in the southwestern portion of the area.

The proposal will replace the outdated zoning with R5B, R6B, R6A, R7A and R7D contextual zoning districts that will protect the existing scale and consistent street wall of the neighborhood’s buildings while allowing for modest growth where appropriate. The existing commercial overlays within the residential area will be updated to C2-4, reducing commercial encroachment onto residential areas and will bring existing establishments on Classon Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Rogers Avenue and Nostrand Avenue into conformance.

The proposal also amends the Zoning Resolution to create a new Inclusionary Housing Area in order to provide incentives for the creation of affordable housing. The Inclusionary Housing Program allows property owners to receive a 33% floor area bonus in exchange for setting aside 20% of the floor area for the creation or preservation of permanent affordable units all within height limits. 

Furthermore, it amends the Zoning Resolution to maintain the consistency between the Zoning Resolution and the Administrative Code for properties fronting on Eastern Parkway.  This amendment ensures that a 30-foot open area must be provided between Eastern Parkway and any buildings to maintain landscape architects Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux’s original design for the wide thoroughfare. 

Community Board 8 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 more information on the Department’s zoning proposal or more details about ULURP, please visit the DCP website.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable communities in the City, in part by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts, as well as establishing policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, waterfront and public space.

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