Emotions are running high around 80 Flatbush, a massive mixed-use complex with a 74-story tower, planned for a site near Barclays Center, practically alongside Victorian row houses where Downtown Brooklyn meets the brownstones. If things go well for its developers, the project—which also includes a 38-story structure, two new schools and two 19th century commercial buildings to be repurposed as cultural venues—will become the latest to join the relentless march of luxury high-rise towers up Flatbush Avenue, from the East River to what was for decades Brooklyn’s tallest building: the 37-story, 500-foot-tall Williamsburg Savings Bank building, which is now called 1 Hansen Place. At 1,000 feet, 80 Flatbush will dwarf the 1929 building’s beloved Art Deco clock tower.
Last week, at the first public hearing of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process (ULURP), area residents raised rallying cries of “Don’t block the clock!” and “Save our sunlight!” Meeting attendees—including community board members, elected officials, and neighbors, in addition to representatives of Alloy Development and the New York City Educational Construction Fund, which is building the proposed schools—filled St. Francis College auditorium in Brooklyn Heights on March 28. Testimony went into overtime as citizens voiced their objections to the project’s scale and density, a shortage of school seats, inadequate affordable housing (200 of the projected 900 apartments), overburdened transit, and other concerns, from trash to rats.
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery went so far as to say, “The character and spirit of our neighborhoods are dying, and 80 Flatbush is killing it,” drawing sustained cheers and applause.
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