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Developer Looks to Build Big On the Beach

Community Board 13 is scheduled to hear a developer’s rezoning request, which, if approved, would allow two vacant lots to be converted into multiple high-rise beachfront residential buildings in western Coney Island. The proposed rezoning, according to CB 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal, would facilitate the construction of four seven-story buildings on the two lots, which would create a maximum of 313 residential units. The lots are bounded by Surf Avenue, West 35th Street, the northerly boundary of the beach and West 37th Street. The lots, stretching from 3602 to 3618 Surf Avenue, make up approximately 75 percent of the zoning district proposed for the rezoning, according to Jay Segal, an attorney representing Ocean Dreams, LLC, the developer of the property at issue. Segal says the other portion is owned by a neighboring resident. Ocean Dreams, LLC, says Reichenthal, had originally planned to build a larger group of three-story buildings, but now is looking to construct the four high-rises. In order to begin work on the taller buildings, Ocean Dreams, LLC is seeking to change the zoning district from the current R5 zone, which is typical for row houses and limits building height to 40 feet, to the R6A zone, which typically allows for six-story apartment buildings that are designed to be compatible with existing buildings in older neighborhoods. Before a zoning change is to occur an application must first be submitted to the Department of City Planning (DCP), according to DCP Press Secretary Rachaele Raynoff. Next, Raynoff says, DCP must certify that an application is complete in order to commence public review under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) of the New York City Charter. Once certified, Raynoff says, the application goes to the Community Board and then to the City Planning Commission, where it can be approved, modified or rejected. If approved, Raynoff says, the rezoning request goes to the City Council for possible adoption. Reichenthal is looking forward to having the community’s concerns heard and questions answered at the upcoming meeting. “I imagine people will talk about height, the amenities, the open areas,” he said. However when pressed on specific concerns of his community, Reichenthal would only say that nothing will be known until the May 25 public hearing. Many community groups across the borough have been vocal opponents of rezoning efforts that allow for high-rise development throughout Brooklyn’s smaller scaled and historic neighborhoods. Aside from larger developments like the Greenpoint Williamsburg Waterfront and proposed Bruce Ratner Atlantic Yards arena plan, even the development-friendly Borough President Marty Markowitz has said that there is a need for “smart development” to save Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. “Throughout much of southern and western Brooklyn, zoning does not closely match the low-rise residential building that commonly exists there,” Markowitz said in a statement issued to the press earlier this month. “By working together we can change this picture.” Pat Dellamura, Vice President of the Gravesend-Bensonhurst Quality of Life Committee, says there are many questions that need to be asked before a development—such as the proposed development at 3602 to 3618 Surf Avenue—are built. “The question I would have is that ‘is anyone going to be displaced,’” Dellamura said. “Is [the neighboring resident] going to be forced to sell? It is going to be put under the guise of imminent domain?” Other issues, Dellamura says, are whether the sewer systems, public schools, police and fire departments and parking requirements are suitable for the influx of people into the neighborhood. “The one thing that we’ve said over and over again is the parking requirement,” Dellamura said. “Ideally I would love at least 100 percent, meaning that each apartment had a parking spot, off street, because street parking is a nightmare.” The DCP zoning handbook says the R6A zoning requires that the parking requirements are one per dwelling unit or 50 percent of dwelling units if grouped. CB 13 has scheduled a public meeting on May 15 for the rezoning request. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the 2nd floor auditorium of Coney Island Hospital, 2601 Ocean Parkway. CB13 further plans a Land Use Committee Meeting on June 6th and the full Community Board vote June 22nd on this issue.

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