In a sign of a growing construction boom in Bensonhurst, Community Board 11 voted unanimously to recommend that the city give the go-ahead to a property owner looking to build a four-story, eight-unit apartment house on a vacant 65th Street lot.
Community board members admitted to having some reservations about the project, however.
The vote, which took place at the community board’s meeting on June 14, moves the owner of the property at 2173 65th St. one step closer to the start of construction.
The owner still has to get the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to agree to extend the terms of a previously granted zoning variance before moving ahead with the project. But given the community board’s stand, the BSA approval is likely a formality.
Department of Finance records list the property owner as an entity called 2173 65 Street, Inc.
The site was formerly occupied by a two-story house. That dwelling was demolished in 2006. The current owner purchased the land in 2014 for $910,000, according to city records.
Ross Brady, chairperson of the community board’s Planning and Zoning Committee, said the committee was troubled to see that the building plans still call for commercial space on the first floor despite the fact that BSA had previously turned down that part of the project. “BSA rejected it,” Brady said.
Community board members are calling for the commercial entity to be removed from the construction plans.
In another wrinkle, the site will not have to include a parking lot for residents’ cars, thanks to a waiver the owner obtained from the city. Most new residential construction is New York City is required to include at least some space for parking. The community board is opposed to the waiver, Brady said.
Residents who live on the same block as the vacant lot attended the community board meeting and raised objections to the project, charging that an eight-unit apartment house is too large for the site. “You’re approving it, but we don’t want it,” one man told Chairperson William Guarinello.
Guarinello suggested that neighbors who oppose the building plans submit their objections to the community board in writing for the board to include in the paperwork it submits to the city.
The community board has been keeping a close eye on the property in the years since the two-family house was torn down. In 2013, the community board contacted the Department of Buildings (DOB) to report that a wooden fence erected around the vacant lot was not secure.
The 65th Street project is part of a trend of construction in Bensonhurst, according to land use experts who said developers are snatching up even small parcels of land to build residential housing and commercial spaces in the fast-growing neighborhood.
Community Board 11, which covers Bensonhurst and Bath Beach and parts of Gravesend and Mapleton, has seen an increase in the numbers of immigrants moving into the area in recent years.
A 2013 study conducted by the Furman Center of New York University found that Bensonhurst has one of the highest percentages of foreign-born residents in New York City. Fifty-six percent of Bensonhurst residents were born outside the U.S., the study found.