Downtown’s latest high: Developer seeks rezoning to build 942-foot skyscraper on Fulton Street

Going up: Developers Rabsky Group and Totem want the city to rezone a Fulton Street lot Downtown in order to erect a 942-foot tower.
Brooklyn Paper
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Downtown is on the up and up!

A developer wants to erect another massive skyscraper above the neighborhood, one block away from the polarizing 80 Flatbush megadevelopment that the city green-lit in September.

Brooklyn-based builders Rabsky Group and Totem are pushing to rezone a lot bounded by Fulton Street, Hudson and DeKalb Avenues, and Rockwell Place, in order to construct a 942-foot mixed-use tower with roughly 900 apartments, a new 640-seat elementary school, a community facility, and retail and commercial space.

The trapezoidal plot at 625 Fulton Street is on the Downtown–Fort Greene border, within the Special Downtown Brooklyn District where buildings’ size is regulated by density, not height, which the city formed back in 2004 to bring taller, mixed-use buildings to the area.

But despite its proximity to the five-building 80 Flatbush complex, the lot is within Fort Greene Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo’s district, not that of her colleague Downtown Councilman Stephen Levin, who ultimately signed off a slightly shrunken 80 Flatbush — which will contain nearly 900 apartments, roughly 200 of which are so-called affordable, two new schools, and cultural and commercial space — after months of protests, negotiations, and debate over its necessity.

But before the builders can break ground, they must raze the three-story building now at the site, which includes a pre-school, commercial-trade school for adults, and retail space.

And they also need the city to sign off on an upzoning to increase the plot’s allowable floor-area ratio — a zoning measurement abbreviated as “far” that determines how high a structure can be relative to the size of the land it is on — from a total of 10 to a max of 21, in order to include the school.

Should the city approve the rezoning but not a special permit needed to boost the far to 21, the developers will drop the school, and instead push for a far as big as 20, or as small as 18, for the towers’ commercial space, according to documents they filed with the city.

The developers are not asking the city to upzone the tower’s residential space, but would still get a small boost in density in exchange for making as many as 25 percent of the building’s units below-market-rate, according to the rezoning report.

If approved, the proposed 942-foot tower, about 100 feet higher than the taller of 80 Flatbush’s two soon-to-be-built high-rises, would go up across the street from another 40-story tower that builder Slate Property Group wants to erect at 570 Fulton St., which the local community board outright rejected in October.

The rezoning request has yet to begin its way through the city’s lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, however, which will kick off only after the developers finalize a draft environmental-impact statement required for the process to begin.

And if officials reject the request, the developers plan to erect a 78-story, mixed-use residential building with ground-floor retail on the lot as of right.

The City Planning Commission is set to review the project on Jan. 17, and civic gurus on Community Board 2 will get a chance to weigh in by next fall at the earliest once the ulurp process kicks off, according to its district manager Rob Perris.

The Fulton Street project isn’t Rabsky’s only development in the area — the firm is also behind a scheme to build market-rate housing on the site of a former Brooklyn Hospital tower containing doctors’ offices and an urgent-care facility in Fort Greene, and the controversial eight-building Broadway Triangle project in Williamsburg.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 8:50 am, December 24, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Nasty Mary from Fort Greene says:
Well, at least the developers can count on Laurie Dumbo (oops, sorry!) to do what they tell her.
Dec. 24, 2018, 11:27 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
80 flatbush was approved at a FAR just under 16. 21 doesn't exist except in some places in Manhattan. ULURP is usually capitalized as is FAX. No affordable housing means no tax breaks.
Dec. 24, 2018, 5:03 pm
Linda from Fort Greene says:
ULURP is political cover for the City Council to approve every development that comes before them. If a project is 2000' tall, the Council will approve it. The City Planning Commission will approve it. The Community Boards are worthless. If the board votes No it doesn't matter because the Council will vote Yes. Cumbo belongs to developers.
Dec. 24, 2018, 11:48 pm
AC from Upper West Side says:
I'm gonna promote the unpopular opinion in the room: Go with the biggest option. And I'm not saying this as a pro-development, pro-tall building person. I'm saying this looking at the different proposals courtesy of New York Yimby. If they got the 21 FAR zoning, you get affordable housing, a school, and retail/commercial in a 941.7-foot tower. With a FAR of 20, you shave off 14 feet and lose the school. Without any zoning amendments, you get an 821-foot tower, that will maybe have some affordable housing, but no guarantees. In all, you're asking yourselves this: what difference does 120.7 feet make? Do you want the best deal? Go for their largest offer, and try to work from there, unless you and your community are fine without the school. Work from options requiring the rezoning, because there, you would actually get a lot more. Be open to hearing them, and they will be open to hearing from you. Hostility is only going to be met with more hostility, which never ends well for anyone.
Dec. 25, 2018, 8:36 pm
up up and away from Brooklyn says:
It really doesn't matter anymore. Low rise Brooklyn is a thing of the past and now it's time to compete with Manhattan and restore the once great city of Brooklyn. Let Brooklyn decide for itself again and not be influenced by Manhattan minded leaders.
Dec. 26, 2018, 10:53 am
Ramon from Ft Greene says:
AC from UWS, you're right about Brooklyn going the way of Manhattan, that skyscrapers are taking over. As far as "going for the best deal,"a luxury apartment building legitimized for maximum bulk on the excuse of a school being added on is not a good deal. It's the latest Council-developer con. Leaving aside the disaster of public education in NYC, if a neighborhood needs a school, let the DOE build it. If we need a school, build a school, not a glass luxury tower.
Dec. 30, 2018, 11:22 am
AC from Upper West Side says:
Ramon, you're getting at least an 821-foot tower. Set up meetings with the developer. What matters now is what goes in. Like I said, losing the school shaves off about 14 feet, so you would end up with a tower about 927 feet tall. Again, I recommended the largest option because it offers the most. You also get office space, retail, and affordable housing (Which may not come with the smallest option.) Also, these hybrid towers are the best kinds of buildings that can go up under our circumstances. The schools should now be built amongst the towers in my opinion. Kill two birds with one stone. In the end, openness and compromise is your greatest ally, and that goes for the developer as well. Use it. If the plans for 570 Fulton Street get panned, you're losing a shot at affordable housing. Had 80 Flatbush gotten turned down, another opportunity would've been lost, and refurbishing facilities for a school. Think about what goes in instead of what goes up. Rabsky has had this lot for almost two years now.
Dec. 30, 2018, 2:11 pm

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