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Sunset Park residents sound off on plan for former 68th Precinct building

After years of false starts and inaction, it appears that the new owner of the former 68th Precinct building in Sunset Park actually has a plan to develop the site at Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street.

Brooklyn landlord and developer Yosef Streicher, who purchased the building for $6 million under the corporate name of Brooklyn Police Castle Inc., is pursuing a plan to build condos adjacent to the building, which was landmarked in 1983.

According to reports, Streicher has said that condos are in the works, along with a child care center, luxury cafe and small museum in the former station house. Previously, Lily Becker, director of public relations and marketing for real-estate brokerage firm TerraCRG, had hinted to The Home Reporter at possible housing at the site, explaining that the property was “zoned in a fashion that might allow for condos.” The firm announced the sale last summer.

Nonetheless, many Sunset Park residents are not keen on the condos idea, contending the property could be better utilized for community purposes.

“My position as a community leader is that Sunset has always been a working, lower-middle class neighborhood because of home owners,” said former Assemblymember Javier Nieves. “To come in and put luxury condos on site will feed into the agenda of gentrifying the neighborhood. Sunset residents can barely afford what they have, never mind luxury condos.”

Rendering courtesy of Brooklyn Police Castle Inc.
Rendering courtesy of Brooklyn Police Castle Inc.

In 1999, the historic but dilapidated Sunset Park building built in 1886 was slated to be a community center by then-owner, the non-profit  Brooklyn Chinese American Association (BCAA). However, minimal progress was made towards fixing the building and the plan never came to fruition, much to the dismay of Nieves. “It has to be turned into a community center. We fought with the community for a long time to have it, yet it hasn’t happened,” he said.

A lack of information continues to be a point of contention for Sunset Parkers. “Who will have access to the space? There’s a lot of vagueness and things they’re not telling us,” said Maria Roca, founder of Friends of Sunset Park , who also stated she’s worried about displacement. “Who will have access to what they build? Also, it looks very bulky. What they have presented looks like a building that exceeds the zoning for that property.”

“I would imagine a lot of residents in the area who might not even be aware of it, would be against it, especially with luxury condos and increased traffic flow,” added Nieves.

Others believe the space could have been used to ease school overcrowding. “We are disappointed that the old 68th Precinct was not considered as a possible annex to alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 516, a school steps away from this site and in dire need of space,” said Jovita Sosa, a member of Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park.

Some Sunset residents are slightly more optimistic about the space, as long as it doesn’t price out current residents. “On the surface, it’s a good thing since the building has been an eyesore for too many years,” said Sunset Park resident Ramon Oyola. “However, in order for the community to benefit, the condos must be affordable.”

The renovation isn’t a done deal as the Landmarks Preservation Commission needs to approve the changes first. If the project does not comply with existing zoning and building regulations for the site, plans might need to clear other governmental bodies, including the Board of Standards and Appeals, the City Planning Commission and the Department of Buildings, as well.

At press time, Streicher couldn’t be reached for comment.

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