NEWS: Wallabout preservation updates
from Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership/ Mrtyle Avenue Revitalization Project
As some of you may know, the Historic Wallabout Association made a presentation laying out our goals of creating a Wallabout historic district at the June 21st Land Use Committee meeting of Community Board 2. It was a wonderful success! Tim Shaw, MARP’s intern, created the presentation with input from the HWA Steering Committee, and Gary Hattem presented it to the community board. The presentation highlighted the historic wood-frame homes that make Wallabout so unique, the industrial and working-class heritage of the area, as well as some of the recommendations made by Andrew S. Dolkart in the Wallabout Cultural Resource Survey he prepared for us last year (available at http://www.myrtleavenue.org/WallaboutCulturalResourceSurvey.pdf). The community board committee members were very supportive of our goals for the neighborhood. One member, from Brooklyn Heights, was so impressed by the beauty, charm, and history of Wallabout that she put forward a motion for the land use committee to strongly support our efforts at landmarking the area. The motion passed unanimously, and the whole room applauded!
The committee meeting also featured a presentation by the Department of City Planning (DCP) Brooklyn Office on their plans for a contextual rezoning of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Wallabout, for which a number of our local community groups have been advocating for many years. DCP’s plans for Wallabout were heavily influenced by Dolkart’s report, and their recommendations are great news for protecting Wallabout from out-of-scale development. Without going in to it in too much detail, those blocks between Myrtle and Park dominated by brownstones and brick rowhouses would be rezoned to R6B (same as the plans for the residential blocks in the rest of Fort Greene & Clinton Hill), which has a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 2.0, requires the same building setbacks as adjoining properties, allows a maximum height at the street wall of 40 feet, and prohibits the creation of curb cuts for lots with a width of 40 feet or less. DCP went a step further in recommending protection of those blocks dominated by wood frame homes, suggesting a rezoning to R5B, which has the same general provisions as R6B except only allowing for a max FAR of 1.35 and a max building height of 30 feet.
This rezoning, when it happens, will do a lot to reduce the speculative tear-downs and construction that have been occurring due to unused development rights. As far as timing goes, my best guess is that the rezoning recommendation will be “certified” by DCP sometime this fall, which will then kick-off a 6-month timeline for getting approvals by the various elected and appointed officials. While this might seem like a ways off, it is much faster than getting the neighborhood landmarked and will do a lot to protect the neighborhood. All that being said, the rezoning is not a done deal yet, so when the time comes, please be sure to come to future public hearings that will be held in order to show your support. We’ll be sure to let you know when they are going to happen. The Steering Committee plans to have a Historic Wallabout Association general meeting and a small fundraiser in the fall, so we’ll keep you posted. We look forward to seeing you then.