The City Council moved to approve the controversial 840 Atlantic Avenue rezoning this week, despite its failure to gain support from Community Board 8.
The City Council Land Use Committee voted to approve the application — which will allow for an 18-story building on the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic Avenues in Prospect Heights that currently hosts a McDonalds drive-through — on Sept. 13, leaving only the full City Council to vote before it’s written into law.
An updated version of the proposal was presented to and approved by the community board’s land use committee on Sept. 2. The latest version of the proposal reduces the number of affordable units to about 54, but cements their affordability at a deeper level under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program at option 3. It also reduces the building’s bulk by about 10 percent.
The proposal to erect a dense mixed-use building at the corner of the two heavily trafficked thoroughfares was rejected numerous times by the boards land use committee, and by Borough President and would-be mayor Eric Adams, who requested a less dense alternative be proposed.
Committee members repeatedly raised concerns that the development was out of step with the long-planned M-Crown rezoning, which seeks to rezone the industrial corridors of Prospect and Crown Heights for development while retaining jobs in the area. The developer, Atlantic-Vanderbilt Holdings LLC, was asked by board members to resubmit their application.
Community boards play an advisory role in the Uniform Land Use Review Process, but they must officially weigh in before a project can move forward.
The exact identity of Atlantic-Vanderbilt Holdings LLC remains murky, though Simon Duschinsky of the Rabsky Group development firm is known to be a passive investor in the project.
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who represents the area and has the most influence over land use decisions, brokered a meeting between select committee members and the developer, which led to the most updated version of the proposal being presented to the committee and approved.
Neither Cumbo nor any of her staffers participated in the meetings, which were attended solely by committee members and representatives for the developer, according to the source.
A statement read by City Council Land Use Chair Francisco Moya during a Sept. 10 meeting of the land use subcommittee indicated her support, though Cumbo has not attended any of the public meetings regarding the project.
“840 Atlantic Avenue presents a rare opportunity to secure truly affordable housing and an affordable long term home for the beloved arts organizations and job-generating commercial space on a site that is currently home to only a parking lot and fast food restaurant,” the statement reads.
A representative for Cumbo did not return a message seeking further comment.