289-unit condo proposed for Crown Heights site next to Brooklyn Botanic Garden

May 6, 2024

960 Franklin Avenue. Street View 2024 © Google

A Crown Heights property that has seen several development proposals over the years traded hands again. A limited liability company tied to Yitzchok Schwartz’s YS Developers paid $64 million for 960 Franklin Avenue, which sits a block from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and is home to a former spice factory, as The Real Deal reported. YS Developers acquired the site from Isaac Hager and Daryl Hagler and on Friday filed plans for a seven-story residential building with 289 condos. A previous plan that called for two 34-story towers with over 1,500 apartments was successfully stopped by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and local residents, who feared the high-rises would block sunlight to its nearby greenhouses.

The plans list Hamish Whitefield as the architect of record and call for a 240,000-square-foot development with 289 residential units and 145 parking spots. G4 Capital Partners provided $42 million for the purchase and $75 million in construction debt, according to The Real Deal. The sellers were developers Isaac Hager and Daryl Hagler.

G4’s Chris Goetz told The Real Deal that 960 Franklin will be a “condominium project in an undersupplied neighborhood,” with the amenities, unit prices, and proximity to the garden as main draws to the building.

960 Franklin Avenue
The proposal from Continuum Companies and Lincoln Equities. Rendering: NYC Department of City Planning

In 2019, developers Continuum Companies and Lincoln Equities proposed a pair of 34-story towers with 1,500 apartments, half of which would be designated affordable, through a rezoning.

BBG officials argued the development would prevent light from shining on its 23 greenhouses and put its rare plant species at risk. According to the garden, which launched a campaign against the development, the project’s construction would affect 20 percent of its collection, including endangered and extremely rare orchids, cacti, and bonsai trees.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio was also opposed to the project, claiming it would “harm the research and educational work carried out by one of his city’s prized cultural institutions.”

In September 2021, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject the zoning application. The developers had put forth a revised plan in February 2021 that shortened the project to 17 stories with 1,170 apartments, but the CPC said the new proposal was not submitted in time for review.

Zev Golombeck, the previous property owner, sold the site to Hager and Hagler in 2022 for $43 million, according to The Real Deal.

54 Crown Street. Rendering via JLL.

Several new developments are currently in the works in this stretch of Crown Heights south of Eastern Parkway. Next to 960 Franklin, a 17-story mixed-use project at 54 Crown Street is under construction and will yield 569 rentals, commercial space, and parking for 170 vehicles. Another 17-story tower is being built just a block north at 931 Carroll; Brooklyn developer and landlord Harry Einhorn secured $55 million in construction financing for the project, according to The Real Deal.

Plus, Continuum hasn’t given up on the neighborhood. The developer is seeking a rezoning to build a 14-story mixed-use development at 962-972 Franklin Avenue.

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  1. J

    hmm, crown heights need truly affordable housing, and yet they get condos, where is that group that calls it self MTOPP from crown heights, that part of crown heights is close to great amenities, is that group part of the not in my backyard crowd? is that the same group who talks about gentrification? that part of crown heights needs truly affordable housing, that MTOPP group don’t speak for all of crown heights residents