Brooklyn Skyscraper District Clears Key Council Vote

Brooklyn's borough hall sits at the heart of the new historic district.

Brooklyn's Borough Hall sits at the heart of the new historic district.

Despite a very public effort by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) to stop City Council’s landmarks subcommittee from approving Downtown Brooklyn’s skyscraper district, the measure passed, paving the way for a full Council vote on February 1.  As the proposed district always had full support of Council Member Stephen Levin and Borough President Marty Markowitz, it wasn’t likely that REBNY’s shot across the bow would make much of a difference. But it may point to a more assertive stance by the group which has been decrying layers of regulations from Lanmarks and ULURP.

REBNY sent out a full color flier that portrayed a dumbstruck cartoon figure looking at bland Court Street edifice with a banner reading “Is this a landmark?” According to the Daily News, it’s the first time the group has had done a direct mail campaign in response to landmarking. Just last week REBNY’s senior VP Michael Slattery told AN that he found the landmark districts “problematic.”

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg promising to streamline City Planning‘s land use applications, and with a regulatory-fatigued industry grumbling a lot louder, REBNY’s public stance against Landmarks has all the markings of a campaign.  The group’s loud opposition against the 21-block historic districting accompanies a gathering storm of anti-ULURP opinions from high-profile developers like Jonathan Rose who called for an overhaul of the review process at Planning”s Zoning the City conference last November. But as Landmarks trumps zoning on many levels, the campaign, if it can be called that yet, seems to be starting on the ground floor.

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