Brooklyn Tenants Protest Rezoning for Towers

Tenants came out in Crown Heights on March 30 to oppose the proposed rezoning of 960 Franklin Avenue. Real-estate developers Franklin Ave. Acquisition LLC have filed plans to build two 39-story towers on the former spice-factory site, looming over the nearby Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Prospect Park. They would be taller than both the 25-story Ebbets Field complex and the 33-story Tivoli Towers, the highest buildings in the area.

The lot is currently zoned for a building no more than 75 feet tall, about seven stories. That zoning was intended to protect the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s sunlight.

“These changes to zoning will have a lasting negative impact on Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries—where plants for the entire Garden are propagated and grown—by causing the loss of as much as three hours of sunlight daily in spring, summer, and fall,” garden management said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Protesters chanted “Lower the towers, save the flowers.”

Tenants from the Ebbets Field complex raised concerns that new developments in the area are pushing up rents in their buildings, where many residents have preferential rents. Half the 1,578 apartments planned for the site would be luxury, and half “affordable,” with the cheapest renting for about $1,460 a month.

Other protesters spoke about the lack of on-site parking, possible strain on the electrical grid, and already overcrowded trains.

No date has been announced for the start of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process.