Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The city council approved a 32-story, mixed-use apartment building and cultural center known as BAM South on Monday.
The angular glass building will include a 20,000 square foot public plaza, 300 apartments, and a 50,000 square foot community and cultural facility. It will be built on top of an existing parking lot south of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, at Lafayette Street and Flatbush Avenue.
“A lot of thought has gone into the philosophy behind this district and this building is central to that philosophy, ” said Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in a WNYC interview last week. She said that the project is vital to the area's future and would have "small and large, ethnically diverse, visual and performing arts," and would be comprised of "a lot of buildings that look different pulled together with a common streetscape.”
City Council member Letitia James, who has worked with developers since 2009, threatened to veto the project last week as it was initially proposed. She called for builders to use more union labor that pays a “prevailing wage," an issue that has not been resolved.
To pass the plan, James said she came to an agreement on preserving the Pacific Street library, which will be housed in the new building, while the library's original building is preserved. James also said she reached an agreement to give space at BAM South for the arts organization 651 Arts.
In a statement, James said, "I am pleased to again offer my support to BAM South, a project which will offer significant affordable housing to the Fort Greene community. . . .Two Trees has further recognized the importance of paying union working prevailing wages, and I congratulate them for exceeding WMBE contractor requirements in the development of this project."
The project includes 300 apartments, 60 of which are designated affordable, something James says is not enough. Part of her agreement includes adding 30 percent affordable housing to three other projects in the area.
BAM South will be located at Lafayette Street and Flatbush Avenue, where there is a currently a BAM parking lot. (Courtesy of Ten Arquitectos)
Renderings for BAM South (Courtesy of Ten Arquitectos)