Thanks to Brooklyn Parking Minimums, 360 Degrees of Ground Floor Parking

The full ground floor of this super-transit-accessible Boerum Hill project will be dedicated to automobile storage, thanks to New York City's parking minimums. Image: ODA Architecture ## Crain's##

Parking minimums have struck another blow for terrible urban design, this time just three blocks from the transit mega-hub of Atlantic/Pacific, where nine subway lines and the LIRR converge. A new luxury apartment building going up at the corner of Bergen Street and Third Avenue will dedicate its entire ground floor, facing both the side street and the avenue, to one big, open garage.

The decision to give ground floor space to automobile storage and curb cuts rather than retail, a lobby or a stoop is very likely a result of the city’s outdated and anti-urban parking minimums (hat tip to Ben Furnas for flagging the project). The new development will have 85 apartments and 45 parking spaces, according to Department of Buildings records. Under current zoning, the law mandates that a building of that size include at least 43 parking spaces.

That’s close enough to indicate that the two extra spaces were probably architectural remainders left over after complying with the parking minimums. (In its definitive research, NYU’s Furman Center counts buildings that exceed their parking minimums by less than 25 percent as potentially constrained by the zoning mandate).

The Naftali Group, the building’s developer, didn’t respond to a Streetsblog inquiry about the project, so we can’t know for certain how much parking the developers would have preferred to build, nor why they opted to place it on the ground floor. In other nearby projects, though, parking has ended up on the ground floor rather than underground due to the high water table.

This site has better transit access than almost any place in the country. It’s hard to imagine that the Department of City Planning really believes that valuable ground floor space is best used as a parking lot. DCP’s review of parking minimums in the “inner ring” of New York City neighborhoods is expected to start by reducing or eliminating the car-friendly mandates in Downtown Brooklyn. Here’s hoping this building convinces Amanda Burden to define Downtown Brooklyn generously.

  • Eric McClure

    Wow, that’s horrendous.  Way to go, Department of City “Planning.”

  • Car Free Nation

    My question is if there is anything that can be done about this now? Is it too late for this project, and its ridiculous parking minimums to be changed? Who does one complain to?

  • Neighborhood Planner

    This is absolutely tragic and shameful. That corner has so much amazing potential for retail and street life.

    Amanda Burden: Are you alive? Are you breathing? What the fuck are you doing?

  • Eric McClure

    @8f81732bad5092894a3bc62a5c9be99e:disqus , I think she’s still cabbing around Harlem lamenting the absence of places to eat.

  • Brick

    You have to wonder what would occupy these spaces if/when the parking minimums are reduced or repealed. Converted to storefronts? A food truck pop-up bazaar? New Yorkers are remarkable for their use of every inch of space for both private and public installations – the possibilities are endless for this type of development.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t help but notice that not a single pedestrian or cyclist is depicted in the mock up. 

  • This is a failure of planning really (aside from silly parking requirements).  One can technically have stupidly high parking requirements and still require street-level activation (just means the architect has to hide the parking or bury it).  I’m shocked that a city like NY doesn’t have planning/design requirements for streetfrontage. It’s a no-brainer.  This building is a travesty as is – like a slap in the face to every pedestrian that has to walk by it for the next 50 years.

  • Gowanus

    There’s the B65 that runs down Bergen and bike lanes on Bergen and 3rd Avenue.  This place would sell out in about two seconds even if you forced people to SELL their cars in order to move in.

  • man walking home from bar

    That looks like a great place to sneak into and take a leak.

  • That corner is now completely ruined. That will forever be a harrowing walk, that’ll demand the annoying, defensive mindset of “is a car going to pop out of there?”  There is also nothing to look at, no shops to peek into, no detail to admire – just drab automobile storage. 

    It’s a dead area, forever devoid of street life and activity.   And it’s blocks from Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub.  What an outrage.  This is not why people empty out their wallets to live here and this is not why we love NYC.  NY pols, get a clue!  

  • Anonymous

    It could be converted to retail or commercial use in the future, but there are significant costs to doing so which the owner of the building at that time may not want to incur.  Building in stores or commercial spaces during initial construction is less costly than retrofitting them later.

  • What’s even more ironic… the building’s own press release explicitly calls out its ideal proximity to transit! “Located at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Bergen Street
    in the Boerum Hill / Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn; the site is
    just a few blocks from a recently approved Whole Foods, within walking
    distance to the 585-acre Prospect Park and provides easy access to
    numerous subway stations and is just a five minute walk from Atlantic

  • Here in Melbourne, Australia, there’s rules about that sort of thing. You can have ground floor parking, but you can’t present a solid continuous blank wall (there must be some ‘street activation’), and you can’t get curb cuts the length of the block either. There’s a few remainders of when you used to be able to do that, but they’re slowly getting worked out of the system with building renovation, demolition etc. There’s a good summary of the process over the last couple of decades here:

  • vnm

    Geck, you’re right. It’s an automobile society. A world inhabited only by moving and stored automobiles.

  • Albert

    It ain’t built yet.

  • Mark Walker

    Ugh…. I shared this on FB and a friend (who enjoys driving) observed that most developers would have put the garage underground. So I wonder what the developer intends to do with the basement. Curbed reports that “the building will include health club, storage, courtyard, and roof deck with cabanas” though apart from the cabanas it’s not clear what is going where. If, say, the health club is in the basement, why not put it on the ground floor where the exercisers could benefit from a little daylight? It sure would be nicer for passers-by on the street. And who would want to live on the second floor with motorized noise one floor below practically around the clock? Maybe a little well-aimed community board or other municipal pressure could change this design for the better. Of course eliminating the parking altogether would be the best possible outcome, but even if you accept the parking as a fait accompli, this is a ludicrous and inexplicable design.

  • Ratopia

    This is a building for people who despise the city they live in and never want to set foot in it. This is the kind of shit they’re building in Mumbai all over the place.

  • Anonymous

    Minimum residential parking requirements are standing in the way of a development that will put a locally owned cooperative market in THE MOST POPULATION DENSE AREA IN THE ENTIRE COUNTY, Tompkins County/Collegetown Ithaca, NY, a place that DOES NOT have a grocery store–largely due to minimum parking requirements.
    here is a page that I created some months ago for the project: apartment unit development above 5000 sq foot of commercial space, the main space already filled as the local cooperative market already signed a tentative lease/letter of intent to rent this space.

  • Ari

    What would happen if a developer surreptitiously built this sort of development with parking which was designed to be easily retrofitted for retail space, charged an arm and a leg for parking spaces and then, once the building was leased out, built in retail in place of the parking. Would the City have much recourse?


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