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New York developer seeks variances for massive housing complex

A New York developer is seeking a zoning change to build two 39-story housing towers in Brooklyn, New York.

The developer wants to build the structures on what Curbed New York called a "large and underutilized site" in the area of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The developer is proposing to make half of the planned 1,578 apartments affordable units.

But for the project on the 120,000-square-foot property to be feasible as planned, the developer will need the city to grant zoning amendments to boost the site's density and reduce its parking requirements. The proposal calls for a mixed-use development that would total 1.4 million square feet.

The developer said 30 percent of the apartments – nearly 500 in all – would be labeled as permanent affordable housing.

According to documents filed with the city, 60 percent of the apartments will be rented to New Yorkers designated as low income, very low income or extremely low income.

If the city does not approve the variances, affordable apartments would be reduced to just 20 percent under the Affordable New York program.

The site has a long history. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a brewery and later had a life as a spice distribution facility.

The site plan as proposed also includes 21,000 square feet for retail use, open space and a 9,600-square-foot community gathering space.

The first units could be ready for occupancy by December 2022 if the project receives timely approval.

Zoning laws are put in place to give developers a blueprint of where and what they can build. But city officials are smart to consider amending the zoning if projects have a community benefit, and affordable housing certainly qualifies as that. Applying for variances is complex when it comes to a project such as this. An attorney experienced in real estate law can provide guidance.

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