Crown Heights residents rally against proposed 182-unit complex at site of 19th-century senior home

July 15, 2020

Southern facade; Photo credit: Simia Rassouli

The fight continues over a proposed new development on a large stretch of land in the Crown Heights North Historic District II with an online petition opposing the project collecting over 4,000 signatures. A neighborhood group, Friends of 920 Park, hopes to stop the construction of a seven-story, 182-unit apartment building on land at 959 Sterling Place (920 Park Place), originally the site of the Methodist Home for the Aged and currently the home of the Hebron French Speaking Seventh Day Adventist School. The renewed fight against the project comes ahead of a Brooklyn Community Board 8 and Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing on the plan later this summer.

The south wing set to be demolished; Photo credit: Simia Rassouli

Chapel on the west end of the complex; Credit: Jessica Portillo

Hope Street Capital and Morris Adjmi Architects filed plans for the residential building two years ago. The plans call for a 211,000-square-foot, 84-foot-tall development with 182 units of housing and some community space. Amenities proposed include a rooftop lounge, fitness center, and a pool, as the Real Deal previously reported.

The site is the former Methodist Home for the Aged and the Infirm, a freestanding complex at 914-920 Park Place and bounded by Sterling Place and New York and Brooklyn Avenues. Constructed in the Romanesque Revival architecture style in 1888-1889, the building is considered to be one of the neighborhood’s only 19th-century institutional buildings remaining.

Originally located in Bed-Stuy, the structure was moved to the Crown Heights location in 1976 and currently is occupied by the Hebron Seventh Day Adventist Elementary School. The complex and the grounds were landmarked as part of the city’s designation of the Crown Heights Historic District II in 2011.

View from Sterling Place looking east; Courtesy of Morris Adjmi Architects/ Brooklyn Community Board 8

View from Sterling Place looking North; Courtesy of Morris Adjmi Architects/ Brooklyn Community Board 8

View from New York Avenue, looking southeast; Courtesy of Morris Adjmi Architects/ Brooklyn Community Board 8

Hope Street’s plan, which was scheduled to be presented to the land use committee of Brooklyn Community Board 8 last month but has been postponed, involves demolishing the south wing of the building, reconstructing the facade, and building a new apartment complex. The breakdown of the apartments proposed includes 160 one-bedrooms, 11 two-bedrooms, and 11 three-bedrooms. The developer has said 30 percent of the units will be designated as affordable, but the preliminary plan does not provide any specifics.

An online petition to Council Member Robert E. Corngey Jr. from Friends of 920 Park has 4,040 signatures as of Wednesday. The coalition opposes the project, citing its large size, the loss of open space, the lack of affordable units proposed in an already gentrifying area, and the possible disruption to residents.

“In a neighborhood that is already highly stressed, the proposed development would remove green space, create a heat island, affect airflow, intensify noise, and greatly diminish the capacity of the surrounding sewer system to handle stormwater runoff,” Friends of 920 Park wrote in a press release last week.

“HSC has given no indication that they are mindful of the community’s health and well-being. Given the outsized impact communities of color have suffered from environmental racism in Brooklyn and elsewhere, it is outrageous that the proposed development has no green initiative.”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission had a meeting scheduled on the project for July 14, but postponed the hearing until later this summer.


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