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The lot.

They don’t like it, but there’s not much they can do about it.

Members of Community Board 10, like many activists, are not necessarily happy with the proposed six-story, 63-unit hotel that could be coming to the long-vacant lot across the street from P.S. 104, which — like so many local schools — is overcrowded.

Nonetheless, “Since the development would be as-of-right, there is unfortunately not much this board can do in terms of power to prevent this hotel from being built,” CB 10’s Zoning and Land Use Committee Chair Brian Kaszuba told members at the group’s general meeting, held on Monday, March 19 at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center. “However, the committee does not believe that we need another hotel in our community. We need more classrooms, we need more affordable housing – we have other needs.”

To boot, Kaszuba said, Bay Ridge already has two hotels – the Gregory and the Prince – both of which come with their fair share of controversy. “We just don’t feel an additional hotel would thrive in this area,” he said.

To help prevent such developments in the future, Kaszuba — who initially met with committee members the day before a rally at the site to discuss the development — told board members at the meeting that the committee will work to ensure the panel has a say on the development of proposed hotels in the neighborhood down the line, via a two-pronged approach, calling for a citywide text amendment that would create the need for a special permit anytime a hotel is proposed in areas now deemed as-of-right and also possibly amending the Special Bay Ridge District specifically.

The former, Kaszuba stressed, would, “Give community boards, borough boards and the City Council some power to decide where and when these structures can be built.”

Something similar was done recently, he said, with the creation of a special permit to build storage units in manufacturing districts.

As for the latter, created in 1978 to keep developments in character with the neighborhood, “The committee believes that through the Special Bay Ridge District, we have an opportunity to create a special permit for the development of hotels in our community without needing a citywide change,” Kaszuba added, noting that, “Unlike other parts of the city with large commercial areas, Bay Ridge has a small pocket of commercial area that is surrounded by a large, residentially zoned area. We believe that a hotel is not in character with our neighborhood.”

Aside from parking for the window purveyors next door, the lot in question, 9114 Fifth Avenue, has been vacant and on the market at the hands of a Ridge-based seller for nearly a decade.

Now, there is finally a buyer – Ankit Mehta – and he’s under fire for his plans, permits for which were pre-filed with the Department of Buildings on Wednesday, March 14.

Elected officials at a March 16 rally contended that the site – zoned for commercial use – would be better suited for a school (something CB 10’s committee agrees with), as it is in one of the city’s most overcrowded school districts. In addition, pols in attendance declared, Bay Ridge does not need a hotel.

However, Kaszuba stressed, this issue is not about the homeless – a major talking point at the Friday rally.

“I have to set the record straight – this is not about a homeless shelter,” he said. “All we know is there is a sale and a pending application for a hotel. To strike fear into people by saying that that’s what’s going to happen here is way too premature.”

While a hotel can be built on the site as of right, according to the Department of City Planning, it would not be impossible to build a school there. In fact, the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2016 was considering a request by Bay Ridge Prep to build a six-story school nearby at 429 89th Street, which has the same C8-2 zoning.

Nonetheless, given its as-of-right status, there is not much the community board can do to stop the hotel in question besides working with the developer himself.

“Right now, we won’t be able to prevent this without some sort of cooperation from the new owner,” Kaszuba said.

In the meantime, the board also discussed calling on DOB to do a full review of the plans for the site, specifically to make sure that all 63 units will be up to code, space-wise.

They also discussed putting their feelings in writing.


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