Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
The Hudson Companies Inc. has started work on a 23-story residential tower a block and a half from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. But some members of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens object to the proposed building, saying it is too tall and will change the texture of their neighborhood.
"Because of the price of the luxury rental market, (the project) is going to jack up rents," said John Way, a member of the Prospect Park East Network. "Landlords will see it in their interest to kick people out and get higher rents."
PPEN has filed a lawsuit against the developer, The Hudson Companies, and the construction company. A judge issued a temporary restraining order on the pouring of concrete at the site. The suit alleges that the project will cause secondary displacement of low income residents, and that the state of New York failed to adequately assess the tower's environmental effects on the community.
"There has been no residential tenant that has been displaced by this project; it was basically a huge parking lot," said David Kramer, principal at The Hudson Companies.
The building is within the zoning regulations of the neighborhood. Additionally, the project will create 51 units for low income residents, that is, those who make between $25,000 and $42,000 per year.
"I've met with countless people who are excited by this project," said Kramer. "This is a neighborhood that hasn't had any investment in new buildings, and they're excited."
The developer will likely receive numerous benefits in exchange for creating the affordable units. It's eligible for a 25-year property tax exemption from the city. Additionally, New York State has allocated tax exempt bonds to the developer that will make the housing tower eligible for federal tax subsidies.
PPEN and other concerned residents want the developer to create even more affordable housing while at the same time lowering the height of the building. That's a request that housing advocates say will be a tough ask of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. The mayor has said he will entice developers to create more affordable units by guaranteeing them that they can make more revenue from bigger, taller buildings.
Residents say they are also in talks with the city to change the zoning regulations in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood. It is currently zoned to allow for residential towers.
UPDATE: State Supreme Court Judge Peter Moulton issued a decision that denied the preliminary injunction and vacated the temporary restraining order he had issued.
In an emailed statement, Hudson Companies said it is pleased with the decision. It added that construction continues at the project.