The City Council approved a massive, 32-story tower next to the Brooklyn Academy of Music after the city agreed to increase the number of below-market-rate apartments at adjacent sites, a move that won the support of a key holdout.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Crown Heights) said she signed off on the $135 million development after the Bloomberg administration vowed to boost the number of affordable units from the traditional 20% to at least 30% at two separate development sites to the north of the site.
“This is really a victory,” James said after the vote Monday.
Earlier this year, James supported the plan to convert a parking lot across from BAM into a tower with space for cultural groups.
At the time, she called the project “a mix that reflects the needs of a creative and diverse district.”
But James, who is term limited and running for public advocate, changed her mind and demanded more affordable units. She also sought promises that developer Two Trees Management would use union builders.
The project has the support of many, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura.
The building is expected to include 50,000 square feet of cultural space, including BAM cinemas, the Pacific St. public library, and rehearsal space for local groups operated by 651 Arts.
The tower would rise above the parking lot at the center of this aerial photo.
The 300-unit building will also have 60 apartments set aside for affordable housing, a 10,000-square-foot public plaza and several retail storefronts.
“I have always supported Two Trees vision for the project, and I believe it was important to ensure the project included significant community benefits,” James said.
The Council vote was 46 to 1, with Charles Barron (D-Brownsville) providing the opposition.
The vote was originally scheduled for last Wednesday but was delayed to get James on board. City Councilmembers typically defer to the lawmaker in whose district a project is situated.
The Two Trees building will not add more affordable units. The below-market rate units won by James will be in the adjacent sites, which are still in the earliest phases of development.
Two Trees Principal Jed Walentas was pleased with the overwhelming win.
“With cultural space, much-needed affordable housing and a new public plaza, we will be transforming a parking lot into an iconic building with many public benefits,” said Walentas.
The so-called BAM South building, plus the two other sites, is part of a larger BAM Cultural District, which city officials hope will be a Lincoln Center for Brooklyn.