From the Wave:
If developers have their way and the city can cut a deal with environmental naysayers, Rockaway residents may one day have a new shopping destination just north of the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge in Brooklyn.
The plan is to transform a 15-acre swath of land near Four Sparrow Marsh in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, into a car dealership and retail center. The land lies just south of the present Toys R Us store and just north of the Belt Parkway interchange. It is also just north of the Four Sparrow Marsh, the habitat for many species of birds, some of them on the protected species list, environmentalists say.
Because of the proximity of the marsh, the plan has drawn criticism from local conservation groups.
While members of that area’s community board have warmed to the idea of a new retail center, some conservation groups are worried about the environmental impact of the proposed project on Four Sparrow Marsh.
The plan calls for a 110,000-square foot Cadillac dealership to be built next to Toys R Us on Flatbush Avenue. The project is scheduled to begin the city’s land use process this spring. Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. will oversee the project, breaking ground in 2014.
There are currently two proposals for the retail center. One would allow Forest City Ratner to erect two buildings for a total of 138,000 square feet of retail space for multiple tenants. The other calls for a single 127,000-squarefoot building with one tenant.
At issue is the 67-acre Four Sparrow Marsh, which is currently a nature preserve and the nesting site of several threatened species of birds, like the seaside sparrow. The project could hurt the amount and quality of water in the basin, said New York City Audubon’s Phillips. It could also disrupt the nesting of several species of birds, he said.
The plan “does try to buffer the development site from the natural area. However the buffers are pretty small and we think they are inadequate,” he said.
Under the proposed plan, Four Sparrow Marsh would also become officially mapped parkland overseen by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. It would remain off limits to the public as a nature preserve.
God knows we have too much nature in this city and not enough Bruce Ratner projects! Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for this wonderful project in line with your PlaNYC 2030 goals. Just like this one.