Boerum Hill Re-Zoning

The March 2011 Boerum Hill Association Newsletter includes a great summary of the proposed zoning changes for much of the neighborhood. Please see the attached summary & zoning map for more information, or contact the BHA with questions.

(May 9th, 2011)

The kind of development we need.

I love the story of Hoyt/Schermerhorn. No — not this bad story. This awesome bringing-the-neighborhood-together story. How it took years of dialogue among residents and politicians. How a plan came together that made sense, fit into the neighborhood, made its strengths stronger and erased its weaknesses. Unlike other developments.

(August 31st, 2009)

Whole Foods – moving from 3rd Ave to Atlantic?

Just happened to read this article on Brownstoner today, which contained the following hint:

The second new development up for discussion was 470 Vanderbilt Avenue …. the developer is looking for a supermarket for the site and announced that Whole Foods is under consideration for the site.

I know I’ve heard that Whole Foods is still interested in moving into their lot at 3rd & 3rd, but with that lot being a toxic soup…well, maybe they reckon it’s easier to launch a “health food” store at a place that doesn’t glow at night? (Truth is that Atlantic & Vanderbilt is closer to BH than 3rd & 3rd, anyway. Score.)

(May 22nd, 2009)

Council bill to target “deadbeat” developers

It’s kind of a wonder this wasn’t already the law — that you’d have to clear up existing violations before you can continue building.

(May 22nd, 2009)

Boerum Hill Open Space Report

The Boerum Hill neighborhood is vastly underserved in terms of open space, with less than one-fifth of the recommended public open space for a NYC neighborhood. Given that the neighborhood is largely built out, there are few available sites for future open space acquisition. With high-density residential development slated for the northern portion of the neighborhood between Atlantic Avenue and Livingston Street and the potential rezoning to residential around Gowanus, the neighborhood faces a significant increase in residents, which will place further burden on its limited park resources. The report explores the neighborhood’s open space needs and suggests key strategies to pursue to augment the quality and amount of open space in the community. Major concepts include

  1. expansion of Sixteen Sycamores
  2. improvement of the PS 261 Playground
  3. creation of a Central Park in Gowanus

This report was commissioned by the Boerum Hill Association in 2004 with funds from the JM Kaplan Fund. It was produced by the planning firm of Phillips, Preiss, Shapiro and Associates.

To learn more, download the report.

(November 28th, 2005)

Atlantic Yards: Guiding Principles


In 2003, residents of Brooklyn heard for the first time that Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) was making development plans for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA’s) rail yards at Atlantic Avenue and for several surrounding blocks – an area totaling some 23 acres of land. Subsequently, neighborhood and civic groups affected by the proposed development met to discuss the FCRC proposal and the potential of the

367,000 SF (8.4 acre) rail yards for development.

(July 28th, 2005)

Pacific Plan for Atlantic Yards

At the Boerum Hill Association’s June 15, 2005 meeting at the Belarusian Church, architect Douglas Hamilton presented his Pacific Plan to the Boerum Hill community and answered questions afterwards.

In addition, Mr. Hamilton distributed copies of his testimony (PDF, 199KB) to the Economic Development Committee, and his editorial “The Farce Is With Us” (PDF, 124KB) regarding the MTA RFP (Request For Proposal) process for Atlantic Yards.

(June 18th, 2005)

Atlantic Yards Unity Plan

The UNITY Development Plan is an alternative to Forest City Ratner’s proposal for the Atlantic Yards site. The Boerum Hill Association is cosponsoring a presentation of the UNITY Plan at the YWCA on Wed, Feb. 16th at 7pm.

The evening’s agenda will feature urban designer Marshall Brown presenting the UNITY Plan, a review of the efforts to develop the railyards to date, and an analysis of the potential economic impact on taxpayers of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal.

Reprinted from:


What is the UNITY Development Plan?

The UNITY Plan is a community-based development vision for the Atlantic Yards site. Hundreds of people from the neighborhoods surrounding the site (bounded by Atlantic Ave., Pacific St., 5th Ave. and Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights) gathered last spring to generate ideas about how the site might best be developed to the advantage of all Brooklynites. People broke into small groups to generate ideas, fed their ideas into the larger group, and architect Marshall Brown volunteered to work out a real plan based on the community’s vision. You can download a copy of the UNITY Development Plan at:

In short, the UNITY plan epitomizes community-based, bottom-up, organic development. It is both a development *process* as well as the development *product* and may be contrasted with the kind of top-down plan that the Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC) is seeking to impose upon the community.

Why haven’t I heard about the UNITY Development Plan before now?

FCRC is obviously interested only in their own plan.

People who have seen the UNITY plan have been highly supportive of it. We think you will be, too. The local Community Boards, in their reactive roles, have not fostered much discussion of the UNITY plan, so this is a good opportunity to learn about it. The FCRC plan has been presented in all the papers and in several community forums, but there has been little public opportunity for discussion of the UNITY Plan.

Why should I care about either the UNITY Development Plan or the FCRC plan?

Both plans have the potential to impact all of the surrounding communities in many ways. We think the UNITY plan’s effects will be largely positive, while the FCRC plan has the potential to affect the community in a number of adverse ways. Ultimately, however, we believe that there should be a more open process, and more public debate, about the future of the railyards. Come find out more about the existing plans, and lend your voice to the process.

(February 1st, 2005)

RFP for Open Space Study


As announced in early June, the Boerum Hill Association was awarded a $20,000 grant by the J.M. Kaplan Fund to support the Association’s proposal, Opening up Downtown Brooklyn’s Residential Community: A proposal for the Creation of Open Space in Boerum Hill.

On September 30th the Association issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to engage the services of a consultant to assist the community in identifying sites which might become available for use as open space and to begin to identify a community process for determining programmatic solutions to this problem.

Read the full press release here (PDF format)
Download the RFP here (MS Word format))

(October 1st, 2004)

PRESS RELEASE – Atlantic Yards Mailer to Community Constitutes False and Misleading Advertisement

For Immediate Release

For More Information: Sue Wolfe 718 858-3822, ext. 100

Atlantic Yards: Forest City Ratner Mailer to Community Constitutes False and Misleading Advertisement

Boerum Hill Association Calls for Inquiry by Department of Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, and New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Forest City Ratner’s recent glossy brochure in support of the proposed “Atlantic Yards” development project, mailed to residents throughout Brooklyn, constitutes false and misleading advertising, the Boerum Hill Association (BHA) said today.

“The brochure makes all kinds of fanciful – but purely hypothetical and entirely unverified – claims about the benefits the Atlantic Yards will bring to our community. It includes absolutely no information about the size and height of the 17 buildings that will actually make up this mega-complex, not to mention even one word about their environmental impact,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, BHA board member and former President. “The brochure then tries to lure residents to ‘support‘ the project by returning a vaguely-worded postage-paid postcard in exchange for a mystery Nets ‘souvenir’! Because the postcard is preprinted to indicate support for the project, with no option for dissent, Ratner can claim each returned card as a vote of support even if ‘I oppose this project’ is written on every one.

The glossy, color brochure, filled with photos of laughing children and parents, has not a single photo of the proposed development. Instead, it merely claims, among other things, that the Atlantic Yards will bring “10,000 new, permanent jobs” – a highly contested claim for which no verifiable evidence has been offered to date. The brochure prominently displays the New York Times logo in large font, quoting favorable segments of an article from the newspaper. It then lists vague statements of support for the project from local elected officials, and then invites readers to “Send back this card and receive a free Brooklyn Nets Souvenir!” The self-addressed, bar-code stamped postcard includes a declaration of support for the Atlantic Yards, with space for the sender’s name and email address. The identity of Forest City Ratner as the project developer is entirely absent.

“It’s pretty unbelievable – pretty reprehensible, actually – that Ratner would use such a slick piece of advertising to drum up evidence of support for his project,” said Whitson. “A responsible developer – in compliance with the spirit of New York State laws prohibiting false advertising and deceptive practices – would have included real facts about its proposed project”

New York law states that any advertising which is misleading in any material respect is considered to be false advertising. An advertisement is considered misleading if it fails to disclose facts which are important in light of what is stated in the advertisement, or facts which are relevant in the light of the circumstances of the advertisement. The law also requires an advertiser to disclose its true name and address.

“It’s pretty clear to us that Forest City Ratner’s mailer constitutes false advertising under this standard of law, and we are going to seek whatever remedies are available to us under the law,” stated Sue Wolfe, president of the BHA. “We’ve been absolutely deluged with complaints and expressions of outrage from residents.” The BHA plans to file complaints with the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau and the New York State Attorney General’s office.

“We are increasingly left with the impression that Ratner has no interest in real community dialogue about his project – a project that will substantially change the face of our neighborhood,” stated Wolfe. We’ve gotten no meaningful response from the Ratner people to our numerous attempts to reach out and communicate about what residents really want. Instead, we get a naked public relations ploy to hoodwink residents into expressing their support for this controversial project.”

“Instead of spending all this money on this kind of misleading – and very upsetting – advertising, Ratner should be engaging in serious discussions about how to make this project work. We know how to cooperate with developers; we are experienced in collaborative growth throughout our neighborhood. It’s deeply dismaying to us that Ratner chooses to resort to this kind of end-run around what should be a consultative process,” stated Wolfe. “We look forward to engaging in such a process with them.”

(June 8th, 2004)
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