Protect Brooklyn’s Garden: News in the Fight for Sunlight - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Protect Brooklyn’s Garden: News in the Fight for Sunlight

Protect Brooklyn’s Garden: News in the Fight for Sunlight

Latest News!

june 2024: Brooklyn Community Board 9 will discuss this up-zoning proposal at their next ULURP/Land Use Committee meeting, Tuesday, June 18, 6 p.m. at Clara Barton High School, 901 Classon Avenue (across from the Garden’s 990 Washington Avenue entrance). You may also view the meeting live-streamed on YouTube. The CB9 recommendation is due to the City by July 22, 2024.

Fight for Sunlight

A New Proposal Would Harm BBG

On May 10, 2024, an application by Continuum Company to up-zone 962–972 Franklin Avenue was entered into the City’s land use review process. The application seeks to allow construction of buildings up to 14 stories plus bulkheads on lots that are currently zoned for seven stories. BBG is opposing this project.

The proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) shows the rezoning would cause unavoidable “adverse impacts due to direct shadows effects on open space and natural resources in Brooklyn Botanic Garden” [download PDF]. Last July, when the application for this project was first submitted to the City, representatives of the Garden spoke at the Department of City Planning’s public scoping meeting to express our concerns and to urge that the environmental review process take into consideration the impact of the loss of sunlight on this important resource.

BBG is not alone in this fight. City Council Member Crystal Hudson and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso have already stated publicly that they will not approve any project that harms the Garden.

As the land use review process proceeds, there will be opportunities for public comment. We will update this page as news of the project develops. Thank you for your continued support!

FAQ: About the Threat

What is the proposed project?

Real estate developers Continuum Company are asking for a new zoning designation at 962–972 Franklin Avenue, which would result in a 14-story/145-foot-tall tower, plus bulkheads, roughly twice the height permitted under current zoning.

Is this the same project BBG fought a few years ago?

No, it’s the same developer but a new proposal for part of the site. Continuum Company sought a rezoning for 7 lots in 2019–2021 that would have resulted in a 40-story complex. The Garden and community members opposed this massively oversized development, gaining support from City officials and tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The City Planning Commission ultimately rejected that rezoning application in 2021.

The current proposed rezoning is slightly smaller—6 lots—but would have significant and unmitigable harmful impacts on the Garden. With a new massing even closer to BBG’s Conservatory, greenhouses, and nursery, the proposed building would block sunlight year-round. The impact statement shows aggregated shadow for up to 3 hours a day. Around 15% of available sunlight would be lost to the Conservatory through the winter and the nursery through the summer—exactly when the plants in these spaces most need light.

How would shade from this project affect BBG’s plant collections?

Plants need sunlight! In the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the developer disclosed “significant unmitigated environmental impacts,” including loss of sunlight and increased shading, particularly on the Conservatory complex and nursery area.

Loss of sunlight would significantly impact BBGs ability to grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden, and would harm plant health, plant diversity, and our ability to grow and display plants from around the world.

Isn’t this area zoned for low-rise buildings?

Yes, zoning on the lots where this project is proposed, bordering BBG near Washington Avenue, is now capped at 75 feet (approximately seven stories). These parameters were legislated in 1991 in order to prevent shadows on BBG’s conservatory complex.

Does BBG oppose other developments in the area?

The Garden pays close attention to all proposed developments in the neighborhood and has not opposed proposals for buildings farther from the Garden that we have determined will not significantly impact our collections. The Garden will oppose projects or rezoning that could harm the Garden and its collections.

Is the Garden opposed to affordable housing?

Categorically not. The Garden is keenly aware of the affordability crisis faced by New Yorkers, including many in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like ours, Crown Heights. We would be thrilled to see development of affordable housing within the guidelines that were set to protect the Garden’s growing facilities and collections.

I’d like to support the Garden—what can I do?

We will keep our supporters updated on the public review process including moments for community input and how and when to reach out to public officials.

If you have further questions please contact [email protected].

Recent Press

Brooklyn Botanic Garden battling high-rise proposal that would cast shadow over greenhouses: ‘Existential impact’  ›
New York Post, June 4, 2024

New fight blooms over proposed tower next to Brooklyn Botanic Garden  ›
WNYC/Gothamist, June 3, 2024

Radio Spotlight  ›
1010 WINS, June 3, 2024

Constant gardener: Bruce Eichner pursues new project by Brooklyn institution  ›
The Real Deal, May 20, 2024

The Former Fight

From 2019 to 2021, Brooklyn Botanic Garden fought off a serious threat from a proposed development complex that would have blocked hours of sunlight to the Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries, which grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden site and its community programs. Read about that victory.

Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. These laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden.

This is Brooklyn’s Garden, a vital educational and environmental resource for our community, and it’s up to all of us to protect it.