Letter to Mayor Bill DeBlasio

PPEN Prospect Park East Network
May 13, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY

Dear Mayor de Blasio

We are your constituents and residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and are writing on behalf of approximately one thousand residents who have signed petitions and many community groups asking for responsible development and contextual zoning. These groups include: Prospect Park East Network (PPEN), Lefferts Manor Association (LMA), Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), Prospect Park Alliance, Flatbush Development Corporation, The Flatbush Tenants Coalition, Ocean By The Park Block Association, Chester Court Block Associationand numerous other block associations. We are deeply concerned about the effects of irresponsible, non-contextual development on the quality of life in our neighborhood, including long time residents who may be forced out by escalating costs. In particular, Hudson Inc. is about to construct a 23-story luxury tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue. Demolition has already begun in spite of a lawsuit requesting an injunction to prevent construction because of failure to do proper environmental studies. We are requesting that you ask this state funded developer to scale down this skyscraper that will overwhelm a historic neighborhood, mar the scenic beauty of Prospect Park, and accelerate gentrification and displacement of small business and working families. We are concerned about the use of public funds without public participation and support. We have asked representatives of Hudson Inc. if they would consider a lower building that would cover more of the large development lot, but they appear to be intent on receiving premium rents for the upper floor apartments with views of Prospect Park.   

Beyond this specific project, we want the Department of City Planning to immediately certify and begin the rezoning study of Flatbush and Ocean Avenues along Prospect Park to guarantee contextual height limits on new development. Community Board 9 unanimously called for a contextual rezoning of this area in 2008, when this area was threatened by plans for another 20-story luxury tower. While these luxury towers may be “as-of-right” under the zoning law, they are not “right.” Our zoning, which has not been changed since 1961, is clearly outdated and strips us of the right to have a say about the height, density, and affordability of new buildings on one of the densest blocks in Brooklyn, sandwiched between two historic districts and Prospect Park. This is the only remaining neighborhood bordering Prospect Park without contextual zoning. It has been clear for the past five years that the community wishes to prevent buildings of this scale on blocks close to Prospect Park and the adjacent Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Ocean on the Park historic districts, as well as other low rise residential areas of our neighborhood.  If the developer of 626 Flatbush is allowed to proceed, thumbing his nose at the community and our elected officials, others will soon follow. Although 20 per cent of this development is to consist of  “affordable” housing, “affordable” is not really affordable for many of the residents currently residing in this area. In addition, of the 200 remaining “market rate” apartments in 626, a studio will average $1875 per month, a one bedroom $2200 and a 2 bedroom $2800. It is obvious that in our area, 626’s market rate apartments are priced considerably above the market rate rentals that exist today. Such high rents will lead to "secondary displacement" as rents all around 626 Flatbush begin to raise and lower-income long-term residents are forced out.  Currently our neighborhood has a good deal of affordable housing, but we fear that will change if this building is built as planned.  We are already seeing landlords, in nearby buildings in anticipation of the rising market rate 626 Flatbush will bring, doing everything they can by both legal and illegal means to raise rents and take their apartments out of stabilization. Thus, while Hudson's luxury high-rise may provide the community with some 50 units of "affordable" housing, we believe this largely luxury building will actually result in a net loss of affordable housing for our neighborhood.

Unfortunately, City Planning has ignored our repeated calls for a rezoning study. Councilman M. Eugene, in addition to other members of our community, has written letters to City Planning and publicly called for rezoning to begin immediately. Only recently have we even begun to talk to City Planning. This occurred after a Town Hall Meeting sponsored by PPEN and Borough President Eric Adams that was attended by 500 people on a rainy weekday evening demonstrated our concern. We find these delays and lack of response to be unacceptable given the immediate threats to our neighborhood and the longstanding nature of our rezoning request.  We also understand that it may take many months, if not years to complete such a rezoning study. In the meantime, unless we can get a temporary moratorium on out of context building, developers can undermine the will of the community and our elected officials by beginning construction before appropriate rezoning can take effect.

Therefore, we are asking you to stand with us and demand an immediate halt to all development on the two blocks adjacent to Prospect Park, which have been under threat of grossly inappropriate development for the last five years. We understand there are a number of zoning and land use measures that can be implemented quickly and we urgently need your help to expedite these measures.  

We appreciate your ongoing endorsement of responsible development and community initiative. We hope that you would join us in sponsoring a moratorium on non-contextual development and insist that City Planning begin contextual rezoning of this area immediately. We would like to request a meeting with you and your staff as soon as possible to discuss this further and to seek your support. Thank you very much.


Jacqueline and Stanley Myers, Rutland Rd
Carole Schaffer, Midwood St
Suki Cheong, Fennimore St
Tim Thomas, Clarkson Ave
Brenda Edwards, Chester Ct
Cheryl Sealey, Parkside Ave
Quest Fanning, Flatbush Ave
Nancy Hoch, Maple St
Celeste Lacy Davis, Ocean Ave

The letter is signed by a group of individuals in PLG.  Yet, all of us are members of various organizations in PLG -- be it LMA, PLGNA, PPEN, Chester Court Block Association, Ocean By the Park Block Association, The Q Blog