Coming Soon: “Nice, Cool and Chic” Ground Floor Parking in Boerum Hill

The developer of this Boerum Hill property with an entire ground floor devoted to parking says it's good for the neighborhood. Image: ODA Architecture ## Crain's##

An 85-unit residential building proposed for the corner of Bergen Street and Third Avenue in Boerum Hill sits just blocks from Atlantic Terminal, with access to nine subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. But the city’s zoning requirements mandate at least 43 parking spaces for its 85 units, and the entire first floor of the building will be a giant parking garage, facing both the street and the avenue. According to a report in the Observer, the project’s developer says construction is scheduled begin within 10 days and take approximately 18 months.

The project's latest rendering adds streaking lights from passing cars to activate the first floor. Image: ODA Architecture via ## Observer##

“We are bringing to the neighborhood what we think will be a nice, cool and chic new building,” developer Miki Naftali told the Observer.

Perhaps in an effort to boost the “nice, cool and chic” factor, the latest rendering of the building tries to disguise the first floor parking lot with some streaking lights from cars on the street.

In the surrounding Census tract, 74 percent of households are car-free. The intersection falls just outside the area of downtown Brooklyn slated for parking requirement reductions, which must still be approved by the City Planning Commission. With projects like this being built under current zoning, parking reform for the rest of the city’s “inner ring” beyond downtown Brooklyn can’t come soon enough.

  • Albert

    “’Nice, Cool and Chic’ Ground Floor Parking”

    But *cyclists* are the hipsters.

  • Anonymous

    Where is Amanda Burden and Department of City Planning?  At a TOD conference?

  • New revenue stream! Enclose it in glass and sell off tenant’s cars.

  • New revenue stream! Enclose it in glass and sell off tenant’s cars.

  • Joe R.

    I can see one advantage here. If the street floods, at least all the apartments will be above the water.

  • I live a few blocks from here in one of those big buildings on 4th Ave that’s completely hostile to the sidewalk – no retail, no windows, just a couple of garage entrances.  Our building is much bigger than this one and the two (!) levels of parking in the building are half empty.  Why anyone would force developers to repeat these mistakes over and over again is beyond me.

    The traffic at 3rd and Bergen almost never moves as fast as what’s pictured in the new rendering, especially at twilight hours.  The opening of the Barclays Center isn’t going to improve the congestion around here either.

    To truly reflect the location, they should call this building The Honk.

  • krstrois

    “Chic” is now the same as “classy” in that it instantly indicates the opposite of what was intended. 

  • Danny G

    If the developer is smart, they’ll bump up the parking ceiling height by a few feet, wire it for data and electric, have pipes ready for a bathroom or two, and just convert it to retail once the zoning changes.

  • Danny G

    Oh scratch that, it’s outside of the zone. What a waste.

  • Eric McClure

    Amanda Burden, why are you ruining our neighborhoods?  Parking minimums need to be eliminated yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    DannyG – not a bad idea, but better and easier is to build with flat floors, enough height and the space can be turned into retail or commercial offices, when City Planning finally comes to its senses.  Same goes for 4th Ave – if the garage floors are flat, or can be leveled, when they finally realize that parking cars doesn’t pay, some or all of the space goes to street level retail.

  • Ian Dutton

    What a sad mess with long-term highly negative consequences for my neighborhood.

    DCP, Ms. Burden, you are harming my neighborhood. For all the small steps that have been taken in the city towards sustainability, healthfulness and reform, shame on you for the harm to me and my community.

  • Anonymous

    This project is bad enough without a post title that mischaracterizes what the developer said.

  • Danny G

    If the DCP and DOT were *really* smart, they would figure out a way to target the development of off-street parking on streets near bike lanes as a method of phasing out on-street parking, allowing such streets to become true neighborhood greenways. Maybe someday…

  • Anonymous

    There is a certain ickiy-ess in young, able bodied people owning cars in a city when  they really don’t need it.  Its just an anti-social act.  They have money enough for a new condo, whole foods shopping, yet they got another 50,000 burning a hole in their pocket so instead of investing in experiences, adopting a needy kid or creating something useful, they double down on the consuming thing.  Some of them know better too, Hence the imagined compensation in choosing a hybrid.  They are going to keep doing it until they are made to feel unfcomfortable about the choice of car ownership.  As cool a place as NYC is, its way too money oriented.  That is due to change I daresay.

  • No two ways about it, that ground floor has to go.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    Emmily_Litella, what a reprehensible comment.  I don’t like first-floor parking or parking minimums either, but to form such a judgment about people who (gasp) choose to own cars in Brooklyn smacks of the sort of paternalism that gets moderates to hold our noses as we vote for theocrats who at least won’t try to restrict us from making personal spending decisions.  Calling it “an anti-social act” simply to own a car?  How do you know such people HAVEN’T also adopted a needy kid?  Imagine, if you possibly can, a successful household who wants the amenities of a Brooklyn neighborhood like Park Slope (yes, they’re probably already wealthy) but has a job that requires routine travel outside the transit network.  They are still there, paying hefty city taxes to support a host of other services, as well as the considerably higher prices for gas in the area.  But you think they should be “made to feel uncomfortable” about their choice.  So much for tolerance and recognizing diversity of opinion, but many of us knew better than expect much from the apparatchiks.

  • Alternate Side

    Streetsblog needs to reconcile the outrage against on-street storage of personal property and outrage against indoor storage of personal property just to maintain intellectual honesty. Parking minimums are ridiculous, but I don’t have a problem with cars not being parked on the street where a perfectly good bike lane could go. I like Danny’s idea of connecting new development to bike lanes.

  • Joe R.

    Off street parking would be fine if:

    1) There were no mandated parking minimums, but instead the amount was determined by the free market.

    2) There was a simultaneous ban of on-street parking and standing (with an exception for delivery vehicles).

    The idea here is to give residents of a place who choose to own a car (or really need to own one) a safe, off-street place to park it, while simultaneously not allowing non-residents to park at all in a neighborhood (except in shopping or store center parking lots, if they exist). This would have a dramatic effect of curbing the suburban auto commuters who drive in instead of availing themselves of other options like Metro North or the LIRR. These suburban auto commuters probably comprise 75+% of NYC’s rush hour traffic. My idea would also have the effect of curbing the number of local errands by car if you could only park in store-provided parking lots, rather than on-street.

    Emily_Litella does have a valid point here with which I mostly agree. There’s nothing wrong with owning a car, or even living a car-dependent lifestyle if that’s what one really wants. However, if you’re going to do this, then there are thousands of other communities in the United States where you can live besides transit-rich cities like New York. Leave NYC mostly for those who prefer to go carless, and prefer to not have large numbers of cars roaming the streets. 75 years ago the city was actually more or less like this. Cities like NY just weren’t designed for automobiles. The attempt by Robert Moses to shoehorn them in was a mistake of massive proportions which will take decades to fix. I’m all for personal choice, but not when your choice affects the air others breathe, or the safety of those who choose to get around on foot or by bike. That’s really the problem with car ownership in a big city and why it’s an anti-social act.

  • Anonymous

    @c0762def623095f181b6e8e8de26e993:disqus But if you own a car in the country, you’re not coming close to paying for the consequences of that decision. That’s why buying a car can be called an anti-social act: just by virtue of doing that, you’re harming others, whether by taking money from them, filling the air with pollutants, or very often causing direct harm through traffic violence.

    Raise taxes on fuel, charge enough for parking to compensate the rest of us for the damage done by private vehicle ownership, and start prosecuting traffic violence the way other violence is prosecuted–maybe then car ownership will stop being an anti-social act. Until then, it is what it is.

    Normal, seemingly commonsensical decisions are not necessarily ethical ones.

    And the idea that the theocrats don’t want to control our private spending–too funny!

  • fj

    Just another way the structurally violent monopoly of transportation systems based on cars is perpetuated at terrible costs to everyone though the less affluent feel them most directly.

    “The Price of Inequality,” by Joseph Stiglitz is a great analysis of the degradation of human capital and potential paths to large scale climate change solutions.

    Special $3.99 eBook of “The Price of Inequality” from Google Play

    Ultimately designing for the future will require profound integration with natural capital where human capital is the most important component.

  • Anonymous

    The ‘Boerum Hill’ is looking pretty much good! I hope it’ll
    be looked according the plan so developers should try their best to keep the
    main pattern of the beautiful structure. Good luck.

  • fj

    Lauren Bertrand, “Calling it ‘an anti-social act’ simply to own a car?”

    Hummmm, worldwide 1.3 million people are killed and 50 million gravely injured — most without healthcare — in road accidents each year.

    No, supporting the structurally violent global transportation monopoly based on cars is not a simple anti-social act and you are invited to come up with a better description of systems — easily replaced with safe ones — that kill over 3,000 people each day and more horrific in aggregate than 9/11; including its enormous contribution to  the rapid devastation of the environment before our eyes, that supports civilization as we know it.

  • Max Power

    I’d just like those illustrations to include a little reality: a pedestrian bleeding in the crosswalk out after being struck by those “streaking lights,” while the NYPD tickets a cyclist on the sidewalk.

  • “smacks of the sort of paternalism that gets moderates to hold our noses as we vote for theocrats who at least won’t try to restrict us from making personal spending decisions”

    We could call your apparent politics a lot of things, Lauren, but moderate is not one of them. If you want to be “moderate” while voting for theocrats because you think the milquetoast liberals in New York intrude too much in how you dispense your personal wealth, you’ll need to move to Kansas. Or Tehran. Pick your favorite theocracy, and pack your bags. Don’t forget to bring modest clothing, support the persecution of social deviants, and worship the right god! It’s a small price to pay to avoid soda taxes, or whatever it is that has set off your personal-financial-freedom alarm today.

  • Hi,

    Let’s be fair – if building regulations require parking, then the best thing to do is either find a way to cheat (such as putting in a car elevator and putting the ‘parking’ inside the apartment, and who cares if the owner uses it as a lounge instead), or to at least create a space you can later re-purpose – an open-plan ground floor that could be straightforwardly converted into retail or eating/dining or a doctors office doesn’t seem such a bad choice, as things go.


  • Lauren Bertrand

    Hey, glad I ruffled some feathers here.  The vitriol I seemed to have nursed from my comment proves once again that ideologues (left AND right) are just grasping for their perception of the “good end” of the same turd.  Do you really think, in the case of this multi-unit development, Ms. Burden has forgotten what she learned in school about the fundamentals of urban design?  Of course, it couldn’t be possible that she has a better understanding of the fragility or sensitivity of this deal than armchair critics on Streetsblog?  What if, god forbid, the development genuinely tanks because Brooklynites aren’t willing to pay the extra price tag for a condo with covered parking?  Then, at least, can you feel vindicated without resorting to branding anyone who owns a car in Brooklyn as “anti-social”?  I hope it flops too.  But come on: a single building with parking on the ground floor doesn’t put Brooklyn in any danger of morphing into Houston.

    Using hyperbole from grad school like “structurally violent global transportation monopoly” or “degradation of human capita” or “rapid devastation of the environment before our eyes” (my glasses must be failing me, since I’ve witnessed simultaneous improvement and vitiation, but both at modest levels) only confirms the shrill chauvinism of urban advocacy that has, to our collective misfortune, sent far too many people packing their bags for the burbs.  Move to Kansas?  Gosh, maybe I will–since I’ve already left the Northeast, it won’t take me long to get there.  And how many more people will do the same?  Makes me wonder how many electoral votes the Northeast can expect to lose–yet again–by Census 2020.

    Jonathan Hallam, thank you for proposing a workable solution that doesn’t impose or presume an unrealistic sea change among the constituents.

  • Phil J

    this was a fun set of comments to read. in summary:
    -owning a car does seem to be somewhat anti-social due to the high negative externalities. people who bike everyday feel this danger and are
    -artificial government support for parking is harmful to the neighborhood and the developers who pay for this. this should be eliminated as soon as possible.
    -smart developers should be actively prepping for change of the zoning or skirting the law as far as possible.
    -Amanda Burden knows all this, i’m certain. but i don’t think she has the political capital to pass further parking reform at this time. we need to continue to build this capital as fast as possible.
    -also, Amanda Burden does not personally approve each of these small developments. it is a product of the system that we must change to create better places to live, work, and play.

  • Anonymous

    @c0762def623095f181b6e8e8de26e993:disqus You didn’t “ruffle feathers.” You said transparently false and foolish things and were rebuffed. End of story.

  • Amanda Shoup


    1. This isn’t about a single building. Most of the new development on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue and huge chunks of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Queens have been devastated by these unnecessary parking requirements.

    2. Changing minimum parking requirements does not require a “sea change.” The support for this change is there. It’s basically just inertia and lack of political will that’s holding it back.

    3. Please provide us with a specific example of a family that moved to the ‘burbs because of “shrill urban advocacy.”

    4. Cars in the city are, in fact, profoundly destructive. Yes, and I own a car. Let’s be honest with ourselves, eh? Step number one is to admit we have a problem. I get it that it makes you feel guilty and uncomfortable. It’s OK.

    5. The fact that you view these issues through a “left / moderate / right” political lens is, well… it’s all one needs to know about the extraordinarily dumbed-down place that you’re coming from and the challenges we face in trying to have substantive policy discussions. I don’t blame you. I blame the political culture at-large.

  • Samsilos

    It is just another lousy piece of architecture that ruins this city.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    Presumably if I hadn’t ruffled feathers, you wouldn’t have needed to resort to ad hominem attacks.  I’m not too proud to admit that it ruffled my feathers when car ownership is crudely branded “anti-social”.  It seems all the more ironic that my statements are “false”, since I fully favor reducing parking requirements in urban environments while elevating urban design standards.  But a bit of pragmatism is in order here, honestly. German cities (and the nation as a whole) have a vastly superior public transit system to Brooklyn, and yet car ownership among Germans remains one of the highest in the world.  Are they all anti-social because they still routinely shell out the euros for a vehicle despite their wonderful network?   Equating car-ownership to a sort of pathology will alienate you from over 90% of Americans–is that really the battle worth fighting here?  If so, I seriously hope you don’t get steamrolled in the process, literally or figuratively.  Keep in mind that even this crappy proposed building in Boerum Hill, the car-owners will inevitably be paying a premium, and half the residents will probably own no car.

    When someone here at Streetsblog implies “if you don’t like it here, then leave” (i.e., move to Kansas or one of those other square states), it’s hard not to see the irony, since the tiresome love-it-or-leave-it trope is usually something we associate with people who wear angry bald eagle t-shirts they bought at Walmart (to match their mesh fishing cap, or something).   And yet now we witness the same thing trotted out by urban activists who would presumably claim nuanced thinking.  Sure, these activists can falsely claim they’re speaking on behalf of the non-elite (the 99 percent, if you will)–but when they employ this sort of hyperbole, they’re operating at the same level intellectually as the Tea Party.  Maybe, as Amanda Shoup more graciously describes, it is “the political cultural at large”, but I’m viewing it through a political lens because everyone else here has.  Nothing wrong with it; it’s inevitable.

    But that doesn’t exonerate anyone who unnecessarily shoehorns cars into a psycho-social framework, and no place is more “dumbed down” than another because of it.  Plenty of people have left congested cities (particularly in the East Coast) because of routine difficulties in dealing with a car that they often find necessary because of their jobs.  And Bob Moses imposed far more destructive car-centric civil engineering than this lousy building could ever achieve–New York city may not be better off for it, but it certainly isn’t “destroyed”.  It’s a lousy piece of architecture.  How’s that for an angle we can agree upon, and wouldn’t it be a more effective platform for encouraging change?

  • Anonymous

    @c0762def623095f181b6e8e8de26e993:disqus Your argument is the sort used by pundits  who say, “If both Democrats and Republicans are attacking me, I must be doing something right.” Having a lot of people point out your errors is not evidence that those people are either partisan or tizzied.

    And I personally would take your comments a lot more seriously if you didn’t ignore 90% of what’s said and jumble up the other 10% so you can use it to create this ludicrous distinction among left, middle, and right. When it comes to livable streets issues, all parts of the political spectrum are united by their indifference.

  • Lauren Betrand —

    Do German drivers pay for for all of the negative externalities caused by driving? If so, then they are not anti-social. 

    I’m not sure how you compensate pedestrians who are forced to stop at intersections to let them cross, however.

  • (sorry for the typo in your name)

  • Joe R.

    @c0762def623095f181b6e8e8de26e993:disqus In Germany, actually in all of Europe, drivers pay much higher gas taxes which helps pay for the negative externalities they create. That’s what we need to do in the US-put driving on a level playing field by making drivers pay the true cost of driving, and then let the free market shape the transportation system.

    Car ownership may be high in Germany, but I venture to guess that the average German takes public transit to work. I’ll bet good money in most cases the car is only used for stuff like “seeing grandma on weekends”.

    And yes, Robert Moses did far worse things than this building ever will. In fact, indirectly the parking minimums are an end result of Mr. Moses’ car centric philosophy.

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