Welcome to our live blog of the March 14 meeting of Community Board 8 at Concern for Independent Living, 151 Rochester Ave.
7:40 p.m.: The meeting got started more than 20 minutes late tonight. This is highly unusual. The first order of business is to read out loug the entire list of budget requests made to New York City agencies and the agencies' responses. Apparently it's a law that this is read out loud. It might take awhile.
Most requests were denied due to insufficient funds. Some agencies suggested the board ask local elected officials for the money. A few projects, many of them for street resurfacing, were approved and are awaiting funding or scheduling.
The full list of requests and responses can be found on NYC.gov's website here, starting on page 131.
CB8's treasurer, Ethel Tyus, noted that Community Board 8 has a nonprofit arm, Friends of Community Board 8 where individuals can donate.
Several board members noted that some of the requests were met with a response from the DOT and other agencies that the request had already been fulfilled. But in several instances, the requests were not actually fulfilled.
Board Chairwoman Nizjoni Granville noted that the board can submit up to 40 requests, but this year they only requested 26. They would like imput from the community for next year's requests so they can go up to 40. "This is not a spectator sport," she said.
Jim Vogel from state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery's office suggested that someone do a comparison of the percentage of requests that got funding between Community Board 8 (Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Weeksville), CB 6 (Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Gowanus, and Cobble Hill) and CB 2 (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and several others). (If anyone does this comparison, please let us know -Amy)
7:59 p.m.: Currently the board is discussing the dire need for a greater police presence in the parks and the need for the parks to be cleaned up. Several people noted that every park has a fundraising "Friends of" group that people can donate to. People can also volunteer to help clean up the parks.
8:12 p.m.: The board votes to reject the city's response to CB8's budget requests and to send a letter explaining why and asking that the city reconsider all the requests that were denied, especially the ones where the city mistakenly thinks the work had been done.
Ethel Tyus suggested that people write letters to their elected officials concerning the issues they care most about. She suggested you send the letter by April 15.
Turning a Factory into an Artist Live/Work Space
8:31 p.m.: There was a request to convert a factory to an apartment building at 964 Dean Street between Classon and Franklin. The factory was built in 1908. This building is in a M1-1 manufacturing district that does not allow new residential buildings. Thus it needs a variance.
There will be 13 units, a mix of studio, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments. They will likely rent for between $1,850 a month and $4,500 a month. But it's not determined whether it will be a rental or condo building. (A real estate but the upper range even higher, at $8,633, but the attorney said that number was ridiculous and the real estate agent was just trying to prime the market.)
These will be live/work spaces for artists.
The board's housing committee voted to lend conditional support to the project if they look into the possibility of making two of the apartments of affordable housing.
According to the developers' attorney, the current market price in the area is around $500 per square foot.
Board member Sharon Wedderburn pointed out that the developer bought the building knowing it would need a variance. She said the building will not be affordable for most people in the community and that perhaps the board should not give variances in the M1-1 district and instead keep the area intact until there's a new mayor and look into bringing a lot of affordable housing into the entire area. (This was met with applause.)
The developers' attorney, Eric Palatnik, said they would be happy to provide affordable housing if the building was bigger, but it's not affordable to do it in such a small building. Similarly, there's no way to put parking in it because the building is too old and too small.
"We're not building luxury housing. We're building housing for people already living in the area," he said.
Several people said while the development might be well intentioned, it would end up pushing the current residents out.
Nicola Lopez, one of the developers, said she's been in the neighborhood for over 13 years and has her studio on the same block.
"All these concerns are completely understandable and valid," she said.
"it's not about creating huge luxury spaces," but rather she and her partner are trying to create a space where they can continue to live and work, she added, noting that the project would clean up a building that has been vacant for some time.
Some board members said the cons were outweighed by the advantage of having the empty building developed.
There was a question about whether the lot next door would become a parking lot. The developers tried to get that lot for parking but were not successful, they said.
"Right now the property is deteriorated, there's no chance of anything coming back into that building," said Meredith Stanton, a member of CB8's executive committee.
Chairwoman Nizjoni Granville reminded board members to vote their conscience.
The board votes to deny the request by a split vote of 16 in favor, 13 opposed, 4 abstentions. (To pass there must be a majority of all who vote.)
The board's decision is advisory. The final decision is made by the city's Board of Standards and Appeals.
After the vote, Nicola Lopez said they would still apply for the variance from the BSA. She stressed that she's not a real estate developer but a member of the community.
"It's a very personal project. It's not a commercial venture. It's about being able to be in the neighborhood that I've been living in and working in for the last 13 years," she said.
Liquor License and Sidewalk Cafe Requests
9:13 p.m.: The board voted to support a full liquor license for Art Bar, 884-886 Pacific St. at Underhill, in the space that used to house Nova Bar (run by a different owner). The bar/art gallery will seat 22 including 8 in an outdoor enclosed space and will be open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday, and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
The board voted to support the request with the stipulations that: the outdoor area close by 10 p.m. Sun-Th and midnight Friday and Saturday; Sound attenuation measures for the outdoor space be put in place; no amplified be permitted outdoors.
9:15 p.m.: The board voted to support outdoor seating for Branded Saloon, 603 Vanderbilt Avenue at Bergen. There will be 10 tables seating 24 people. The outdoor seating will close by 10 p.m. and several outdoor street-facing security cameras will be installed.
9:20 p.m.: The board voted to support a renewal for a full liquor license for Sharlene's, 353 Flatbush Avenue, and a beer and wine license for Puerto Viejo, 564 Grand Avenue.
9:45 p.m.: The meeting adjourns.