Residents of Sunset Park and Dyker Heights may have dueling giants to contend with, as a proposal for a mega-development on another site at Eighth Avenue near 62nd Street has been made public.
Renderings have been released for a proposal to construct a multi-building development largely in the air space over the Long Island Railroad train tracks running between 61st and 62nd Streets for two blocks between Eighth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway — literally across the street from the site of another proposed mega-development that was first made public in 2014, and which had already raised eyebrows because of its proximity to the already densely populated and heavily trafficked section that comprises that portion of Sunset Park.
The new proposal for the 240,000-square-foot site by developer New Empire Corp. comes in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in December, 2017, which sought a mixed-use residential-commercial development for the location that “Present(s) a development program that optimizes the Development Site’s proximity to transit, enhances the surrounding context, and serves the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.”
According to the MTA, no developer has yet been chosen for the site, and the process of choosing one is at an early stage. The MTA told this paper that it typically engages in a “multi-step process in reviewing proposals,” with additional information often requested, and the proposals often winnowed, before the MTA will provide information publicly on what has been proposed. At that point, according to the MTA, there will be a full public review following the requirements of the city’s land use review procedure.
The MTA’s goal, according to the RFP, is to “Maximize revenue for MTA’s capital program” while “minimiz(ing) disruptions and protect(ing) current and future MTA, LIRR and New York Transit Authority infrastructure and operations,” as well as “other infrastructure,” including the Buckeye Pipeline that runs through the railroad right of way bringing jet fuel to Kennedy Airport.
As depicted in renderings first shared with New York YIMBY, a website focusing on real estate and development, and released on August 8, the development would incorporate a trio of 18-story towers, situated on a platform constructed over the train right-of-way. The project would stretch two blocks from Eighth Avenue to Fort Hamilton Parkway, and incorporate housing, a hotel, offices, restaurants, a public park and unspecified community facilities. The designer is DXA Studio. The architect is S.M. Tam
The adjacent and earlier proposal, at 6208 Eighth Avenue, right across the street, comprises a mixed-use complex combining a 12-story residential tower with 250 apartments, a 12-story commercial tower and an 11-story hotel, and a total of over 2,500 parking spots in a subterranean garage. It is currently going through the first stages of municipal review, with the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) scoping meeting scheduled for August 30. The commencement of the city’s mandated land use review process, ULURP, would likely follow that by several months.
That project was also planned to include doctor’s offices, a 498-seat pre-K, a private day care facility and a “bookless” digital library, as well as a rooftop garden and terrace that would be open to the general public, and a 10,000-square-foot sculpture garden where local artists can display their work. The architect for the project is Raymond Chan; the developer is 62-08 Realty LLC.
The first project had already raised concerns over increased density and traffic congestion; when news of the MTA’s RFP broke, those concerns were redoubled, given that traffic and overcrowding are already major issues in the area, not only Sunset Park, but its near neighbor Dyker Heights, which has been fighting the scourge of illegal conversions — which increase density even further — for the past several years.
“My reaction is that of many other people locally,” noted Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, which will be called upon to review and advise on the two projects. “It’s just a massive development. Our greatest concern, and we’ve said it over and over again, is the rate of development” in the area — roughly 62nd to 70th Street in Dyker Heights — which, she stressed, has seen “the greatest growth increases” in the CB 10 catchment area.
“Part of the concern, with the rapid increase in retail and residential, is infrastructure — the sewers, subway service, schools, traffic, the demand created by the increase without proper planning,” Beckmann added, noting that “a big part of the EAS for the project at 6208 Eighth Avenue “is going to focus on the traffic implications. On Eighth Avenue, once you reach 65th Street, traffic is at a snarl.”
While both proposals include a hotel, that may not be warranted, Beckmann added, telling this paper, “When we did the study of north Dyker Heights, we couldn’t substantiate the need for a hotel.”
Calls to the developer and designer were not immediately returned.