Gar-done! Developer nixes plan to build towers near Brooklyn Botanic Garden (for now)

Welcome to the neighborhood: Tivoli Tower, as seen from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, may soon be joined by additional massive towers on Franklin Avenue.
Brooklyn Paper
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Developers seeking to build two controversial towers a stone’s throw from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden pulled their application for a zoning variance hours before Community Board 9’s Land Use Committee was expected to decide on the matter.

Cornell Realty gave no reason for its decision to cut and run in a letter informing the Department of City Planning of its change of plans, but area activists believe an online petition condemning the development that gained 4,000 signatures in a matter of days had something to do with it.

“I think the petition did a wonderful job,” said Alicia Boyd, who heads the group Movement to Protect the People, an “anti-gentrification” group that feared the towers would cast dangerous shadows over the park. “We got over 4,000 signatures in less than seven days. It was very impressive.”

Cornell was seeking a zoning variance through Mayor DeBlasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program that would allow the developer to erect two 175-foot-tall towers at 40 Crown St. and 931 Carroll St. near Franklin Avenue in exchange for providing 152 of its 518 units at a below-market rate.

Current laws restrict building heights around Brooklyn Botanic Garden — where the shadows cast by skyscrapers can deprive plants of sunlight, potentially hurting them.

Cornell Realty conducted several city mandated shadow studies it claims proved the buildings would not harm the garden’s leafy attractions, according to garden spokeswoman Elizabeth Reina-Longoria.

But that study only accounted for the 175-feet of development rights Cornell sought through its zoning request, and failed to account for any bulkheads, which shelter rooftop mechanical equipment and can add an additional 40 feet to the top of a building, and opponents fear shadows cast by those would leave the gardens in darkness for far longer than the few minutes the developer’s analysis predicted.

“They wouldn’t have been shadows for minutes,” said area resident Lorraine Thomas, “they would have been shadows for hours.”

That’s the argument that drew Brooklyn Botanic Garden lovers the world over to sign the petition created in opposition to the development, which included signatures of plant fans from distant locales including Manchester, England; Sun City, Ariz.; and even Brooklyn, Ark. — population 1,642 — where one man wrote “Enough is enough!”

Boyd figures the petition would have made it next to impossible for Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights), who has a big say on zoning change requests in her district, to support the plan.

Cumbo’s already considering redevelopment of the historic Bedford-Union Armory building in Crown Heights, and would have been hard pressed to support another controversial development with an election just around the corner, Boyd said.

“She already has her hands full with the Armory and didn’t want to engage in another large fight,” Boyd said.

The news of Cornell’s sudden change of heart is a cause for celebration, according to Thomas, but her relief is likely to be temporary — the developer’s letter to the city noted it would resubmit its zoning application “after additional outreach to community stakeholders and elected officials” was conducted.

But when that happens, the developers will find the same group of plant lovers ready and waiting, said Thomas.

“When they come back, we’ll fight them again,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:40 pm, October 8, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Leon from Bed Stuy says:
Cornell Realty, you can't hold your own against Alicia Boyd? She just a little person living in Crown Heights. You SCARED of her! Look at you, you punks! You want to see the damage of shadows? Look at the shade Alicia Boyd has thrown on YOU. You running SCARED! You pretentious punks.
April 20, 2017, 11:49 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I'm not sure how it would apply to public spaces and windowless properties, but NY needs to adopt some version of England's ancient light laws. Ancient lights, in English property law, are the right of a property owner to the light received from and through his windows. Windows used for light by an owner for 20 years or more could not be obstructed by the erection of an edifice or by any other act by an adjacent landowner. This rule of law originated in England in 1663, based on the theory that a landowner acquired an easement to the light by virtue of his use of the windows for that purpose for the statutory length of time.
April 20, 2017, 1:12 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Alicia Boyd is a property owner personally getting rich from gentrification.

It's amazing she can continue to run her scam on communities.
April 20, 2017, 1:32 pm
James from Bed Stuy says:
Mike, what you say is interesting. Can you cite where Alicia Boyd is profitting from gentrification?
April 20, 2017, 3:01 pm
A Teaching Moment from Crown Hts says:
Folks...time to wake up and not reelect the current City Council Member-Laurie Cumbo. In this case, she had no choice but to backtrack from her usual blessings for predatory development and displacement.

As for Alicia Boyd...listen to what she talked about last year at the Brooklyn Museum...learn what is really going owe yourself 24 minutes to learn...then vote for Ede Fox to replace her!
April 20, 2017, 4:37 pm
Teaching Moment from Crown Hts says:
Here's Boyd's Link:
April 20, 2017, 4:39 pm
Sho'nda from Prospect Heights says:
Wow! I just watched the video link above. How can Laurie Combo threaten constituents like that? I had no idea she disrespects us like that.
April 20, 2017, 4:48 pm
Jessica from Williamsburg says:
They claim to be against gentrification, but when I look at the picture I see white people. This group is ignorant of it's obvious privillege! Might explain why they're so butthurt.
April 20, 2017, 5:07 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Sure, James.

The best part: "All over Brooklyn there are cafes, lounges, bars and cultural institutions just popping up. And all of these places can be both culturally and spiritually uplifting to the human spirit and I love it all!"
April 20, 2017, 8:08 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Jessica, white people are the best at being against "gentrification." It's from generations of mastering the necessary I've-got-mine attitude.
April 20, 2017, 8:18 pm
Sho'nda from Prospect says:
I see six women in the picture. Three look black and three look white. They're all wearing anti gentrification t-shirts. Are the white women just pretending to be against gentrification? If so we should let the black women know so they can tell them to get lost. Alicia Boyd should be protected from the traitorous whites.
April 20, 2017, 10:06 pm
Man from Newkirk Plaza says:
Send some of that gentrification over to dismal Coney Island Avenue. Let Franklin Avenue and Empire Boulevard remain rough and ready.
April 21, 2017, 12:37 am
Florence Lesbona from Park Slope says:
Am I the only one concerned by the blatant trans-phobia being displayed by this group (gang?) of exclusively cis females?
There's not one trans person in the picture. They are trying to prevent "new" buildings, "new" people (trans people aren't new, they were just born with the wrong genitals on their arbitrarily assigned bodies). This whole movement is based on hate and exclusion. It makes me scared. I am truly frightened by these phobic bullies.
April 21, 2017, 6:13 am
Sho'nda from Prospect Heights says:
Florence Lesbona, are you saying you want the Cornell skyscrapers to be built? Do you care about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden losing the light and the plants dying? Plants could give a rap about people conflicted about who or what they are. You claimed to be scared. What about the BBG? What about the plants? Are you saying you would feel unscared living in one of the Cornell luxury towers? Would that be your safe space?
April 21, 2017, 12:18 pm
Florence Lesbona from Park Slope says:
Sho'nda - I can see from your name you are foreign. Let me explain to you how this country works: people are more important than plants. Perhaps where you come from the people just blow themselves up all the time in the name of Allah, or latiños just have hundreds of babies. I understand that for your people, life is cheap.
Here we nuture people. Especially if they were not correctly assigned the right genitals at birth. Could you imagine being forced to wear a dress when you know deep down that you really wanted to be born with a penis???
You think that trans people can't have a place to live? They don't "deserve" luxury housing? You're a bigot and a liar. I can see why they kicked you out of your own country.
April 21, 2017, 1:40 pm
Sho'nda from Prospect Heights says:
I'm American, born here. Trans people should be free to live wherever they can pay the rent or the mortgage. If they can pay the charges in a luxury tower that will kill BBG plants for lack of light and they don't care about the plants, then they're just like other self-involved rich people. I certainly support the rights of trans to be as obnoxious and cynical as anybody else.
April 21, 2017, 6:54 pm
Rodriguez from Bay Ridge says:
Brooklyn has its own Jackie O!
April 21, 2017, 9:04 pm
Dizzee says:
Tivoli Towers should be reduced to half its size! Not only shadows matter, so does the skyline.
April 21, 2017, 9:37 pm
Florence Lesbona from Park Slope says:
Sho'nda, born here and then culturally appropriating a foreign name like that? It makes more sense now.
If you really support trans rights answer me this: how many trans people do you live with? Have you ever dated a trans person? How many trans-owned business are on your street? You claim to support them, but in fact you're a phobic.
Just like you're a phobic of this new building. We won't be controlled by your irrational fears of everything - sorry! Not sorry!
April 22, 2017, 3:01 am
Sho'nda from Prospect Heights says:
My parents named me. The name is in the family. The fight against the Cornell towers has nothing to do with trans genders. The fight is against the carving up of Crown Heights by the Mayor and his developer friends. If you don't want to fight the sell out, don't.
April 22, 2017, 2:07 pm
Stacey from Flatbush says:
Don't mind her Florence Lesbona - haters gonna hate. Sho'nda is the worst hater. She feels justified now that Trump is in the White House (though I bet even he'd find her hateful remarks to be inflamatory).
Ignore angry Repulican trolls like her. We will overcome this one day, and bring peace and harmony to the community and build this building.
April 22, 2017, 2:32 pm
James from Bed Stuy says:
Stacey and Florence Lesbona look to be the trolls. They don't have anything to do with fighting for the neighborhood against the exploitation of politicians and developers. They call people they don't know names instead of having anything to say. Sho'nda has shown enormous class not taking their bait to get into one of their cat fights.
April 22, 2017, 3:36 pm
Truth says:
"James from Bed Stuy" is simply an alter-ego of Sho'nda that she uses to push trans-phobic hate!
April 22, 2017, 5:52 pm
James from Bed Stuy says:
"Truth" is just another alias for the aliases "Florence" and "Stacey" and has nothing to do with fighting to save Crown Heights from developers, jusr red herring piddle.
April 22, 2017, 7:59 pm
Jackie Horton says:
James from Bed Stuy is right! We need to save this neighborhood from trannies and developers! If they build this building, it's like saying the trans people won. I stand with Sho'nda and James, don't build this building and don't give the trans any rights!!
April 23, 2017, 3:37 am
Mack from Flatbush says:
Sho'nda is racist!
April 23, 2017, 10:54 am
I got Money from Bed Study says:
I dont want these freaks living by me and my kids. Just because our society is determined to normalize crazy, doesn't mean we have to accept it.

Until about 5 minutes ago, TRANSGENDERism was a mental disorder.
April 26, 2017, 12:49 pm
Benny from Bed Stuy says:
Obviously its still a mental illness. Just look at the comments by the "transgender" trolls here. (My guess is they're just bored and not transgender at all, just idle and obnoxious in the ibternet way.)
April 27, 2017, 11:56 pm
Francesca from Crown Heights says:
Love how people say "whites moved in my neighborhood".... YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD? How about I get DOWN to your level and tell you, you people moved out my white family in the 1930's -1960's because they didn't want to live in an area that became crime-ridden once a ethnicity moved in. Facts. Just taking OUR neighborhood back :)
May 1, 2017, 7:06 pm
Francesca from Crown Heights says:
For all the trans people, rise above this ignorance.
May 1, 2017, 7:08 pm
Wreckless from Crown Heights says:
I hate all people. Don't build the towering buildings and keep the plants. People are weeds.
June 13, 2017, 10:11 pm
Kay from Prospect says:
I don't understand the conversation...what does transgender have to do with gardens? Why the animosity between plants and transgenders? Couldn't they just build a building that won't endanger the plants? Then, the luxury building will have a nicer view of living (as opposed to dead) plants. Disclaimer: I don't know any transgender people to feel one way or the other about them. I have plenty of plants...most of which I have killed. So apparently, I'm a danger to vegetation.
June 13, 2017, 10:21 pm

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