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Empire rezoning request from commercial to mixed-use — Brooklynian

Empire rezoning request from commercial to mixed-use

529 Empire rezoning request from commercial to mixed-use

"In the portion of the rezoning area that is proposed to be rezoned from R5/C1-3 to R7A/C2-4, the proposed action would enable a proposal by the applicant to develop a mixed-use building, with accessory, below-grade parking, on four lots fronting on Empire Boulevard and owned by 529 Empire Realty Corporation. The development as proposed by the applicant would include approximately 68 dwelling units (68,727 sf), approximately 66 spaces of accessory parking, 24,289 sf of commercial space and 21,572 sf of community facility space. The development would be constructed on Lots 66, 74, 75, and 76 on Block 1311 (the “project site”). The proposed building would have approximately 114,588 gsf of new development."

I personally think this is a great idea.  Not much is going on in southeast CH.



  • edited February 2014
    If this parcel gets rezoned, it will provide a basis for nearby parcels to be upzoned in a similar manner.

    Readers, 529 Empire is between Brooklyn and Kingston, and is presently being used as an Empire Kosher Supermarket.

  • Here is the full Environmental Assessment Statement -
  • edited February 2014
    Here is a partial reaction from the patrons of the supermarket who don't want it to go away:
    image has learned that a request has been put forth by the owner of the property housing the Empire Kosher Supermarket for a zoning variance that will allow for the structure to be torn down and replaced by residential units.

  • I'm sure that the people building this are part of the community. They may even be the operators of the supermarket. The few times I've driven by there, especially on a Friday, the double parking was so bad it choked off the street. Took about five lights to get past there.
  • I grew up right across the street. The supermarket used to be an Associated before it was Empire Kosher (back then the Associated on Nostrand was an A&P). The description says 66 new residential units; the short form actually says 80 -- either is huge for that area. But Empire is a major commercial strip. And there's been a lot of residential building on the undeveloped/underdeveloped lots on Lefferts and East New York in the past 10 years, so I'm not too surprised. I think six stories would be more in context though.

    It'll be interesting to see if and how the opposition in the comments materializes.
  • I don't believe the property owners are members of the community.
  • Yes, the comments of the posters are interesting.

    It looks like a classic battle is in the works; One where people assume that an individual's loyalty to the "community" trumps other interests.

    Throughout the world, the battle plays out based on income, hue, religion, language, nationality, etc.

    If the property owners are a member of the community now, they might be effectively ousted from it if they are perceived as building a development which brings integration/diversity into the Frum Zone.
  • Even if the property owners were members of the community (which they don't appear to be), I would not be too concerned for their status within the community.  Similar situations have occurred before and will continue to occur.  In instances like this, I think it is safe to say that the ones making the noise are not the ones with the influence.  When it comes down to the intricacies, the community does not move as a single unit.
  • That is my impression as well.

    And it is part of why I am optimistic that the property owner will get due process during the upcoming battle.

    I.E. Even if Community Board 9 is full of people who want to maintain the community's present mix and the present supermarket, the CB has limited powers to deny or grant a variance.

    The larger community (i.e. NYC) gets to ultimately decide what may be constructed on this site, through entities such as the Department of Planning and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

    I would hate for a property owner's rights to be denied on the mere basis that the community liked the property's present use.
  • edited February 2014
    Just got back from Community Board 9's monthly meeting where this was presented.  A first for me. Wow! I'm left wondering how anything get's done.  Seems like it is impossible to stay on topic, and I wish people would have the sense to simply sit in silence if they happen to be totally ignorant with regard to the basic fundamentals of the subject, or area, being discussed.  I guess, for some, this is the only soapbox they are going to get.
  • edited May 2014
    The main purpose of CB Mtgs may be to watch people futilely try to control their surroundings without having the power to do so.  
    Boro Hall held a public hearing re: the rezoning on March 19th:

    I assume the rezone of Empire Blvd is now in the hands of DCP/BSA.   

    Needless to say, the eventual outcome may be very good for the property owners in this little section of Empire.

  • Thank you very much for the update, @whynot_31.

    Have you heard anything about re-zoning eastern CH south of EP?  As you can see on the zoning map (, it varies from R2 to R4 to R5 to R7-1.  I may be over simplifying it, but I heard that, at least between EP and Empire, they are going to try and make it consistent by up-zoning most of the area while down-zoning certain areas of the R7-1 north of Empire.  There was mention of using a modified R5 or R6 (height restricted in particular).  This may be part of a bigger plan across Brooklyn...

    In this CH area in particular, being that most of the homes are already over built, there is pressure to bring them withing current zoning parameters and allow for legal living space in basements, attics, and even provide for modest extensions in the back of the property.


  • In this CH area in particular, being that most of the homes are already over built, there is pressure to bring them withing current zoning parameters and allow for legal living space in basements, attics, and even provide for modest extensions in the back of the property.

    What does it mean that a home is "overbuilt"?

    I wonder whether the push to downzone the areas that carry an R7-1 designation has anything to do with the outrage over 626 Flatbush.
  • edited May 2014
    @mugofmead111 - I am using "overbuilt" to describe a property which can legally have 0.75 floor area ratio (FAR) but was originally built with a higher FAR.
  • edited August 2014
    The rezoning effort predates the 626 Flatbush proposals.

    As I understand the history, decades ago people wanted to preserve the neighborhood's low density row houses and were able to get large swaths of the area downzoned accordingly.

    This included houses that built "large" before zoning existed, and houses that had illegal work done on them to make them large after zoning existed. 

    The city had periods in which chaos did not allow it to enforce the codes, and periods in which zoning didn't exist. 

    These "overbuilt" homes were given a temporary pass, but they have to be made legal when they are sold: For example, houses that are being used as illegal 5 family dwellings when they only legal for 3 families, need to rip out two kitchens to be sold.

    Often, these kitchens are then put back in after the sale. 

    My opinion? If they have two means of egress for every apartment and a modern electrical box that can safely handle to load, let's legalize the uses that are already happening.

    Let's allow their neighbors who didn't put extensions on their home because "that would have been illegal", to now do so.

    Let's get some taxes out of the deals.

    In short, I am in favor of a small upzone for "off Empire", and a big upzone for Empire itself.
  • These people are opposed:

  • edited August 2014
    Mr Adams will likely use his forum to say something like "Empire and the surrounding area will be rezoned, but only after your voice is heard."

    Pro tip:  Afterwards, those who want the area:
    - to remain the same and/or
    - become affordable housing when other options are more profitable and/or
    - to prohibit "wealthy people"

    will feel as if they were not heard.

  • Eric Adams is learning that no good deed goes unpunished. He has scheduled his forum on a Friday evening; observant jews can not attend.

    Although a non binding meeting, this is still a big scheduling error.

    On the positive side, the meeting may be a little more productive: One side of the debate (whether true or not, local jews are believed to be strongly in favor of upzonging) may be so out numbered that a rukus does not ensue.

    Note: I would make the similar comment if the meeting was held in such a way that the side that opposes upzoning could not attend.

    Will people find a way to work themselves into a frensy if most of the people they imagine to be their opponents are not present? We shall see.

  • Eric Adams is learning that no good deed goes unpunished. He has scheduled his forum on a Friday evening; observant jews can not attend.

    Although a non binding meeting, this is still a big scheduling error.  
    Sounds like this.
  • Yes. I have also learned that the location has changed a day before the event.

    "There is a change in LOCATION
    Meeting this Friday 8/15/14 at The Full Gospel Assembly at 6:00 p.m. located at 836 Franklin Avenue between Union and President Street."

    Apparently there is more than one location of the Full Gospel Assembly?
  • Rachel is helping to spread the word of the meeting's move, and seems to agree with me that this whole exercise is turning into a lesson on "How not to run a meeting"
  • edited August 2014
    I think the new location is near that pizzeria on Franklin.  I never really paid much attention to the name of the church. 

    The change was due to a death in the family of the pastor of the church on Sullivan Place. I won't give too much grief about this last minute change.

    Can someone report back if anyone goes?
  • Ah, the change of location now makes sense, and makes me a little less hesitant to go.

    I'll try to drop by a little early to spread around some Brooklynian cards. If it appears like it is going to be a variety of crazy that I am in the mood for, I'll stay.

    ...but no promises.
  • edited August 2014
    The Parkside Q holds a similar view:

    I figured that Tim would.  From his blog:

    "Personally, I think you can have a meeting whenever you want wherever you want, but it makes no sense to call yourself a Crown Heights open discussion and schedule it on a Friday night. That's a rookie blunder, and forgivable as such, but don't blame the Q if the Chabad are rankled."
  • edited August 2014
    I almost laughed out loud today when I heard this comment about the meeting.

    Jewish guy: "At first I was angry that it was going to be held on a Friday, when lots of people who supported the up zoning couldn't attend. I was afraid they would block it. Now, I think they should have every meeting on a Friday."

    In other words, he is no longer rankled.
  • People like to complain about how Empire is filled with self storage places, and seem to want to blame zoning as the culpit.

    While zoning plays a big role, I wonder if they understand just how profitable self storage units are:
  • Zoning aside, can we just ban self storage places on the basis of being awful to look at and total block-killers? Empire Blvd is already the most dreary stretch in the neighborhood!