Zoom Meeting Tonight Over New Housing Development on Utica

From the Anash.org inbox: An important Zoom meeting will take place tonight for a proposed 12 Story, 322 Residential Unit and Commercial Development to be located at the Kingsbrook Jewish Parking Lot. All are welcome and urged to attend and voice your opinion.

By Jay Sorid

Dear Jewish Community,

I would like to inform you of an important Zoom meeting for a proposed 12 Story (125 feet tall) 322 Residential Unit and Commercial  Development to be located at the Kingsbrook Jewish Parking Lot, 832 Rutland Rd, which is by Utica and Rutland. All are welcome and urged to attend and voice your opinion.

Housing Committee
7PM – 8:30PM
Join the 5/18/2023 Housing Committee meeting
Meeting ID: 850 6358 9854
Join by Phone: Call +1646-558-8656

Agenda: Utica Crescent – New Housing Project at 832 Rutland Rd

Proposed Site ( Kingsbrook Jewish Parking Lot by Utica & Rutland)

Housing-Committee-Agenda-May2023.pdf (nyc.gov) – Click for Community Board (“CB”) 9 Agenda

Calendar – Brooklyn Community Board 9 (nyc.gov)  – Click for the Brooklyn CB 9 Calendar and then click on the May 18th entry which has the words “Housing Committee”. 

1) Almost a 3 Year Wait to Come to Start Community Engagement and Give a Presentation

“The winning proposal from CB Emmanuel, Monadnock Development, and Catholic Charities includes the construction of a new dialysis center to replace a current, smaller one at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and a large grocery store and local businesses on the ground level.  Of the 322 units planned for Utica Crescent, 34 of the units will be set aside for formerly homeless individuals and families and 96 will be designated for seniors. Resident amenities include laundry rooms, fitness center, bike storage, and multipurpose community facilities.” https://www.6sqft.com/322-unit-affordable-complex-with-healthcare-center-and-courtyard-planned-for-east-flatbush/   – July 17, 2020

2) The 89 Frail/Elderly Supportive Units are Disguised Homeless Housing Units

The above info has since been updated.  I was told by NYS Empire State Development that the 34 units for formerly homeless families have been replaced by “89 of which will be elderly/frail senior units funded by the NYS Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (“ESSHI”) program

VII. A. – Exhibit 1 – Utica Crescent Mixed Use Project General Project Plan (ny.gov) page 2, Project Description III, Bullet Point 1

It sounds good unless you dig deeper and find out that the definition of frail/elderly seniors can mean 55 yr old homeless middle aged men leaving the psych wards, prisons and homeless shelters mixed with grandmothers with tennis ball walkers from nursing homes.

“• Frail Elderly/Senior: Individuals who are age 55 and older, enrolled in Medicaid, and has a documented chronic condition, or requires assistance with one or more activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living. Eligible persons are referred from a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), or street or shelter homelessness ” Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative 2021 (ny.gov) p. 11,  Section 1.4  Eligible Target Populations., See also  ESSHI 2022 Round 7 Q&A (eastflatbush.info), , p.4, Question #19, See Also EESHI from Office of Temporary Disability and Assistance FAQs | Housing and Support Services | OTDA (ny.gov)

The funding source determines the target population.  Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative’s program info is from a NYS OMH (Office of Mental Health) website.   This is different than regular senior housing coming from NYS Homes and Community Renewal. HCR Senior Housing Program Term Sheet (ny.gov) 

It is entirely possible that the 89 supportive housing units for frail seniors will all be grandmother’s with walkers.  It is also possible it will mix in from the nursing homes, shelters, prisons and psych wards. When that happens, I anticipate the homeless nursing home segment population will decrease when the word gets out, because no one likes dropping grandma off to live at a homeless shelter.  I was told that the age population for this project is 62, not 55 which is an option, but 62 yr olds are not exactly all “frail seniors”.

I am concerned about the size of the community facility to be operated by co-developer Catholic Charities.  At a February 23, 2023  Brooklyn Community Board 17 Housing Committee presentation for this project, a Power Point Slide referred to the size of the Catholic Charities facility as about 3000 sq ft,.

In   the NYS General Project Plan dated Feb 17, 2022, there was a reference to a community facility.   “Approximately 3,190 sf of community facility space anticipated to be operated by a local service provider;”   Utica-Crescent-Site-K-GPP.pdf (ny.gov)  p. 2 . II Project Description , Bullet Point 3.  But then in a subsequent Modified NYS General Plan a year later, dated February 16, 2023, the community facility space increases to 19,000 gsf.   

“Up to 19,000 gsf of community facility space anticipated to be operated by a local provider (with total combined commercial and community facility space capped at 38,000 gsf)”   VII. A. – Exhibit 1 – Utica Crescent Mixed Use Project General Project Plan (ny.gov), p, 2, II Project Description, Bullet Point 3.  Catholic Charities increase in space was referred to by the prior presenter on Feb 23, 2023, as increased office space, to the best of my recollection.

I am concerned that this 19,000 community facility could be a social services facility for the many new homeless/formerly homeless facilities popping up around the Kingsbrook area, which are all by the way tax pay funded.  I just finished creating a website which lists them with info.   Home | My Site 2 (eastflatbush.info)  When you get to site, scroll down to New Homeless Development # 2- Utica Crescent.. 

3) Parking Issues:

Parking shortages in the neighborhood will get worse because 233 non-supportive housing will have to share only 33 spots.  36b35b_73042a7b33d34f45b6496865a9b46c66.pdf (eastflatbush.info) – Please see my chart for an easy explanation.   “Parking for approximately 317 vehicles, approximately 284 of which will be reserved for use by Kingsbrook employees” VII. A. – Exhibit 1 – Utica Crescent Mixed Use Project General Project Plan (ny.gov) p.3, Project description III

4) Supermarket – FRESH Grocery – 20,000 gsf. – This is a good thing, but the supermarket appears to not have any designated parking spots, and will have to share in 33 parking spots, if those parking spots are available to the public.  The NYC zoning provides that developers who build certain affordable housing ( <(80% AMI ) are not required to provide any parking spaces, so they of course wont because its affordable housing, not market rate.  Area Median Income – HPD (nyc.gov)

5) April 12  Modified General Plan Meeting Held on Passover – no help from Assemb Cunningham-

Utica Crescent Public Meetings | Empire State Development (ny.gov)  – As you can see, the April 12, 2023 Public Hearing date for Second General Plan has already passed.  The April 12, 2023  6pm to 8pm meeting was on  Passover, when Orthodox Jews could not attend.  This date was also the date during NYC School Spring Recess, so many people were away that week.  NYC Dept. of Education School Year 2022-23 Calendar    

Five days before the April 12 NYS Hearing, I emailed NYS Assemblyman Cunningham, his Chief of Staff and his other staff member,Raul Rothblatt, about the Public Hearing being held on Passover, April 12..  I spoke on the phone several times with Raul Rothblatt and in the end, the Assemblyman would not put his name on a letter asking NYS ESD for a rescheduling of the date.  I also sent an overnight letter to document and make sure that his office could not say they did not receive my emails. It does not matter that the project is sited in Assembly District 58, the residents of the 43rd Assembly are still effected. https://www.dropbox.com/s/8lht68cate2tvv8/Assemblyman%20Cunninhgham%20Letter.pdf?dl=0   

I am not Orthodox nor Lubavitch, but am conservative on the religious Jewish spectrum of things.  Therefore, I went to the April 12 meeting and was the only person there.  I should note, there was no video for the youtube streaming April 12 meeting, unlike the last NYS Jan meeting where many Jewish residents on video.  NYS Empire state obviously did not want there to be a video to clamp down on opposition, so there is only a transcript.  I was the only one there. Here is the link for the April 12 transcript. Utica Crescent Public Meetings | Empire State Development (ny.gov)     There should be a NEW Public Hearing that does not fall on a Jewish Holiday when much of the neighborhood is Orthodox Jewish.  It’s a Civil Rights Equal Protection Issue, and an  Article 78 proceeding should be commenced.

6) This first ever Community Board Meeting for Utica Crescent Coincidentally Comes 5 days After the May 12, 2023 Public Comment Deadline Already Passed.  Utica Crescent Public Meetings | Empire State Development (ny.gov)    As a Brooklyn Community Board Housing Committee member, I am ashamed of the shenanigans going on with Housing Committee cancellations which have the effect of blowing important written comment deadlines and engaging the community.  The December, February, March, April and May Brooklyn CB 9 Housing Committee meetings were all cancelled this year during a time, when 681 Clarkson (Kingsboro) and 832 Rutland (Utica Crescent ) had important written comment deadlines ( 30 days after NYS presentation)  The previous May 10, 2023 Brooklyn CB 9 Housing Committee was cancelled 2 days before the end of the written comment period of May 12, 2023.  Calendar – Brooklyn Community Board 9 (nyc.gov)   There is no reason Board Chair Fred Baptiste could not have chaired these meetings.   This gets better.  So at last night’s Executive Committee Meeting the Board Chair is randomly questioned about the new rescheduled May 18 Housing Committee meeting. He then discloses it’s Utica Crescent’s presentation.

If Tara Westerdahl had not asked a question on what the Housing Agenda was for Thursday, no one would have known and I would not have had time to inform the community.   Many board members were upset at what was going on.  Full disclosure, the Housing Chair previously openly praised the Breaking Ground Homeless shelter provider at the Jan 11, 2023  meeting before they even started to speak.  She said, ask any residents what a great job Breaking Ground does, and then came the fireworks from the public.  The Brooklyn CB 9Housing Chair also scheduled the Joint CB 9 and CB 17 Housing Fair at Erasmus HS, 911 Flatbush Ave on Jan 28,, a Saturday, and other side of town from the Vital Brooklyn projects.

7) The size of the project ( 125 feet ) dwarfs the neighboring houses and create shade issues.  Utica Crescent GPP | Empire State Development (ny.gov)

8) The original Request for Proposals says nothing about requiring homeless housing. See page 25-27 https://www.dropbox.com/s/db1qtnkykyp4u09/RFP%20Proposals%20for%20Vitral%20Brooklyn%20-%20p%2038%20-%20%20Jay%20Sorid%20-%20RFP%20-%20Crown%20Heights%20-%20East%20Flatbush-Affordable%20Housing.pdf?dl=0

I urge the community to show up.  There are legal ways to fight this with lawsuits and there are political ways as wells.  Since AG Letisha James has to sign off on 681 Clarkson, and I believe 832 Utica Crescent , this community needs a Zoom Town Hall with AG James, Assemb Cunningham and Sen Myrie. 

AG James recently spent the day  at  Drag Story Time    NY AG Letitia James to host Drag Queens for NYC kids (nypost.com)   in Manhattan   She can also give Brooklyn Equal Time at a TOWN HALL to discuss the tax payer funded homeless dumping and parking problems which she has to sign off on,  or just do it on Zoom after dinner. 

The recent Utica Crescent presentation from Community Board 17  is on my website Home | My Sit e 2 (eastflatbush.info) if you scroll down to New Developments # 2 – Utica Crescent.

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