Information about this lot
Why is this lot here?
We think this lot is vacant because:
Housing Preservation and Development is not granting interim licenses now. The only way to have the community access this lot is by getting it transferred to another agency. Look below for Pathways that will guide you.
Public land that was sold to developers for $1 via NIHOP in other locations in Brooklyn are now being sold by those developers to residents. Here are the prices and income levels for comparable sites (from https://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3016410068/):
3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a 2 bedroom, 1 bath rental unit. Developer who bought it for $1 will sell it for approx $625,083 to households that make certain incomes: households of 3 have to make combined income between $78,036 and $111,670 annually (see https://livinglotsnyc.org/media/files/homeownership-restored-homes-HDFC_SVTM5Nt.pdf for income levels for all household sizes). Meanwhile, the median annual income for all households in Brooklyn Community District 8, where this is, is $41,141. This housing that can be called affordable is not affordable for most current residents of the district; the lowest income for a 3 family household is almost TWICE the median income in the area now!
It appears that the city still owns this lot. You can call the Deputy Director at HPD and ask if it has been sold via NIHOP yet: Lin Zeng, 212.863.5327. You can also ask about what the income limits will be and try to steer the process as you advocate for a kind of housing that will actually be affordable to people of the area, and that will STAY affordable for the longrun. This could be achieved via a community land trust. You can let them know that our public land can do much more, providing stable and reliable housing, as well as other community uses, for more people and for much much longer.
HPD is not ready to turn this over the NYC Parks Department at this time:
From: "Goldberg, Arielle (HPD)" email@example.com
Subject: RE: Checking in on 5 new garden applications
Date: January 19, 2016 at 6:34:14 PM GMT-5
To: "'Paula Z. Segal, 596 Acres'" firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: "Martinez, Carlos (Parks)" Carlos.Martinez@parks.nyc.gov
Happy New Year to you as well!
[...] As I’m sure you are aware, three of the sites—the one in Brownsville (3775/150), the one near P.S. 335 (1356/6), and the one on Buffalo Ave (1363/7) are in the NIHOP and NCP RFQ and are therefore not available for use as community gardens.
At an in-person meeting at City Hall on December 30
, 2015, Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been committed to reviewing this application and considering transferring this property to the NYC Parks Department for stewardship by volunteers as a GreenThumb community garden.
She also announced that 34 gardens other gardens on HPD land were being transferred to NYC Parks. More details here: http://596acres.org/news/2015/12/29/gardens-being-transferring-to-nyc-parks/ (15 of the gardens just transferred to become permanent Parks' gardens had been offered for sale to developers for $1 early in 2015 through the same program this lot is included in; a year of organizing paid off!)
We just brought the garden application to the attention of this advocate:
Sarah Currie-Halpern | Senior Policy Advisor
NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability
253 Broadway - 7th floor | New York, NY 10007
O: 212-676-3067 | M: 646-265-2654
She is planning to help move this along. Drop her a note and thank her!
I brought this stalled GreenThumb application to the attention of GreenThumb director Nancy Kohn today. She confirmed that the surest route to a new community open space on this City-owned property would a transfer to the Parks Department.
But it will only happen if Parks or the Council Member requests it.
You can do three things right now:
call Brooklyn Borough Parklands to ask that they take jurisdiction of the lot for a new garden - Martin Maher, (718) 965-8917.
call or email GreenThumb (the NYC Parks Department Community Gardening program) to ask that they request Brooklyn Borough Parklands take jurisdiction of the lot for a new garden :
Nancy Kohn, Executive Director (until Oct 9), (212) 602-5301
Carlos Martinez, Deputy Director, (212) 602-5329
and call Council Member Robert Cornegy office to request that they also make the two calls above:
District Office Address: 1360 Fulton Street, Suite 500, Brooklyn, NY 11216
District Office Phone : 718-919-0740
Leave a note after you call!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mary Elizabeth Prall email@example.com
Date: Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 1:08 PM
Subject: Advocating for Two Future Community Gardens in Your District
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org, Kim Albert Kcalbert77@gmail.com
Cc: "email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org, "email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org, 596 Acres email@example.com
District Manager Michelle George, Parks Committee Chair Glinda Andrews, and Parks Committee Co-chair Kim Albert,
My name is Mary Elizabeth Prall and I work for 596 Acres, New York City's Community Land Access Advocacy Organization. For the past year I've been working with a neighbors in your district around a few different community garden projects. (I also visited your wonderful Parks Committee last summer to talk about our work and share the district-specific maps we made.)
For over three years our organization has been assisting Pastor Timothy Olatokun and Celestial Church of Christ (179 Buffalo Avenue) in gathering the materials needed to gain access to the vacant, Housing Preservation and Development-controlled lot next door the church at 175 Buffalo Avenue (Block 1363 Lot 7), which you wrote a letter of support for in August of 2012. In January of this year, after the church received a visit from GreenThumb to survey the site, the church was super close to gaining official access. (Attached is supporting documents for the project.)
Since early 2014 I have also been working with Ms. Liesl Zitman, an educator at PS 335 Granville T. Wilson, to get access to the corner Housing Preservation and Development-controlled lot at 1662 Bergen at Rochester (Block 1356 Lot 6) to create an educational garden that is stewarded by parents and teachers of the school in conjunction with neighbors. This group has also earned the support of the community board (February 2015) and submitted a thorough application to GreenThumb (attached).
I am reaching out to you directly because HPD Deputy Director Daniel Hernandez informed us that no more interim use licenses will be issued for lots in HPD’s inventory. Since 2011, it has been standard practice for HPD to issue interim use licenses to community groups seeking to fill the holes in their neighborhoods with gardens and community spaces while the final dispositions for those sites are determined. This new policy is a sudden reversal of a practice that has been working well to transform vacant, City-owned lots into community resources. Even for lots that are included in the recent Request for Qualifications for developers to build small homes on, housing development is at least a year away. There is no guarantee that each included lot actually has a development team interested in building there. For those lots that teams expressed an interest in, HPD will not even announce which developers are qualified to build on these properties until sometime this summer, at which point negotiations will begin and likely result in closings by early or mid 2016. 175 Buffalo (Brooklyn Block 1363 Lot 7) and 1662 Bergen (Block 1356 Lot 6) are included in the list of sites that are eligible for financing through the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP).
We are wondering if your community board can write a letter of support directly to HPD asking that they make an exception and issue temporary licenses to Celestial Church of Christ and PS 335 for these spaces. If needed, I would be happy to draft a letter for your review.
Holding the land hostage while financing and other details for future development are negotiated does not make sense for our communities and certainly does not make sense for P.S. 335 and the congregation and neighbors of Celestial Church of Christ. Doing so will rob the community of a year of access to open space. A policy that encourages keeping public lots vacant is one that reduces opportunities for the neighborhoods that are most underserved by open space as it is.
Mary Elizabeth Prall
Organizer | 596 Acres' NYC Community Land Access Project
596 Acres, Inc.
540 President Street, 2E
Gowanus, Brooklyn NY 11215
718-316-6092 x 3
I'm hoping that the teachers at PS 335 can get their students to make posters to hang on the lot's fence announcing that they could use the support of neighbors calling and writing the mayor! If not, maybe we'll have a little signature gathering event on a weekend. Anyone interested in helping?
Liesl called Nancy Kohn, the director of GreenThumb and left her a message thanking her for considering advocating on the school's behalf to have this property transferred to Parks.
She also called Stephani Zinerman at Council Member Cornegy's office to ask for the Cornegy's support for making this garden happen.
She ALSO emailed Charlie Marcus, Planner for Housing Preservation and Development to see if an interim use license directly with them would be possible.
Here is a letter that I sent the Mayor Di Blasio and his staff regarding this future-garden. Liesl also passed the letter on to Council Member Cornegy:
"March 18th, 2015
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I am writing to ask for your support for a new school garden on public land in Weeksville Brooklyn. As you know, children in Weeksville do not have the same opportunities to enjoy outdoor learning opportunities as children in other New York City neighborhoods. We are working with a teachers and parents to change that.
In February 2014, Liesl Zitman, a teacher at P.S. 335 Granville T. Woods School which is located at 130 Rochester Avenue, reached out to our organization about creating a temporary school garden to replace the vacant lot across the street from her school 1662 Bergen Street (Brooklyn Block 1356, Lot 6).
Parents, teachers, and the school’s principal see this potential garden as route to addressing several issues present in the Weeksville community (see attachment 1). In addition to increasing access to open space, the garden could encourage community organizing and instill a sense of participation and leadership in students and parents of the community, act as a place to unify neighbors and reduce crime, and be a hub for cultural sharing. At P.S. 335 at least 92% of the students participate in the free lunch program. Teachers see this garden instilling principles of healthy eating and increasing access to fresh produce. The plan for the garden includes 20 raised beds shared between grade levels, a small greenhouse for year-round usage, a compost system, and a sign-up system for teachers to ensure that all 375 students enrolled at PS 335 have an opportunity to participate in the garden.
Ms. Zitman has led a year-long a campaign to make this vision real. Hundreds of supportive parents and neighbors have signed an endorsement of her vision. She has developed a thorough proposal for the garden’s implemented and utilization. In January 2015, Brooklyn Community Board 8 unanimously voted to support the project as well and wrote a letter expressing its enthusiasm (see attachment 2). Housing Preservation and Development, who has jurisdiction over the lot, communicated directly as well as through GreenThumb that an interim-use school garden would be a great fit for this site. Organizers from P.S. 335 submitted a letter addressed to Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) stating their recognition that the garden will be temporary (see attachment 3).
Since 2011, it has been standard practice for HPD to issue interim use licenses to community groups seeking to fill the holes in their neighborhoods with gardens and community spaces while the final dispositions for those sites are determined. Some of these sites have been developed as extremely successful open community spaces and have subsequently been transferred to the Parks Department for permanent preservation. Others shut down when a developer is ready to close with HPD and move forward with building construction where a determination is made that housing development would serve more important community needs.
We are reaching out to you directly because HPD Deputy Director Daniel Hernandez informed us that no more interim use licenses will be issued for lots in HPD’s inventory. This new policy is a sudden reversal of a practice that has been working well to fill the holes in our neighborhoods. Its implementation will directly prevent the creation of the Weeksville school garden that Ms. Zitman and her community have been organizing to create for over a year.
We urge your office to retain the successful policy of allowing temporary gardens and community open spaces on vacant public land. Specifically, we believe that every opportunity should be reviewed individually and that land should be made available for community use until a final disposition becomes a reality. For your reference, I have included the standard Interim Use Garden License that HPD has been utilizing (see attachment 4).
Over the past three years, 596 Acres has successfully facilitated the creation of 32 new community spaces that fill our publicly owned vacant lots. Of those, eighteen currently have interim use agreements with HPD and are ready to shut down should the determination be made that housing development on the site is a better alternative for the local community. In the meantime, children have places to play, fresh food is growing, murals and other forms of local expression are being created and neighbors are getting to know one another by creating their own pieces of the city together. Five other community spaces that we helped bring into being started as pilot projects on City land in HPD jurisdiction with interim use licenses and have since been transferred to the Parks Department after proving to be valuable new community open space resources. In addition, the Beach 45th Street Community Farm in Rockaway is also on land that, despite being mapped as Parks/Open Space in the Edgemere Urban Renewal Plan, was in the inventory of HPD prior to the community organizing to actually create the open space. The land was transferred from HPD to Parks when neighbors were ready to start growing there. If HPD had foreclosed the opportunity to create community spaces on all land in its inventory, none of these spaces would exists today.
Even for lots that are included in the recent Request for Qualifications for developers to build small homes on, housing development is at least a year away. There is no guarantee that each included lot actually has a development team interested in building there. For those lots that teams expressed an interest in, HPD will not even announce which developers are qualified to build on these properties until June, at which point negotiations will begin and likely result in closings by early or mid 2016. Brooklyn Block 1356 Lot 6 is included in the list of sites that are eligible for financing through the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP).
Holding the land hostage while financing and other details for future development are negotiated does not make sense for our communities and certainly does not make sense for the P.S. 335 garden. Doing so will rob the community of a year that children can be playing and learning and developing skills that will stay with them for life. A policy that encourages keeping public lots vacant is one that reduces opportunities in for the neighborhoods that are most underserved by open space as it is.
Included in the email is Ms. Zitman. We both look forward to hearing how you can take direct action to creating this much needed school garden for the Weeksville community.
Mary Elizabeth Prall
596 Acres New York City Community Land Access Program
Encl: Attachment 1 - Support Letter from PS 335 Principal
Attachment 2 - Support Letter from Brooklyn Community Board 8
Attachment 3 - Interim Use Letter to HPD
Attachment 4 - Sample HPD Interim License"
On Tuesday night Community Board 8 unanimously supported this project! Hooray again! Ms. Zitman is going to check in with the board about getting the letter in hand, then the group can approach GreenThumb will all the application materials.
Liesl let me know that the CB8 Parks Committee gave them unanimous support!
Here's an email I sent to Rasheed at GreenThumb:
I'm writing to update you about the group organizing around 1662 Bergen Street at Rochester Ave, Brooklyn. They have completed all that's needed for a GT application and on Tuesday night were granted support by the Parks Committee of their Community Board.
While they wait for their letter to get to them, I wanted Liesl Zitman (cc'd here, a teacher at the PS 335 across the street who is leading the project) to connect with you again so you're aware and perhaps confirm again with HPD or meet with her. Additionally, they are prepared with a letter to HPD acknowledging they're aware their garden would be an interim use agreement.
Mary Elizabeth Prall
Organizer | 596 Acres' NYC Community Land Access Project
596 Acres, Inc.
540 President Street, 2E
Gowanus, Brooklyn NY 11215
718-316-6092 x 3
Rasheed's response was:
"Thanks for the update Mary!
I will check back with HPD to make sure the site is still available for interim use as previously discussed and let you all know what the status is as soon as I hear back.
Rasheed Hislop | Deputy Director
New York City Parks & Recreation
49 Chambers Street | Room 1020 | New York, NY 10007
212.788.1960 phone | 347.263.4177 cell | 212.788.8052 fax
Liesl and some supporters are heading to the CB8 Parks Committee meeting tonight - they're on the agenda! Contact Liesl (info listed above) if you want to attend and support.
Liesl has everything she needs to submit an application to GreenThumb except a letter of support from Brooklyn Community Board 8. When Liesl and I spoke to the Board's office person in the past, she instructed us to visit the Parks Committee first. I encouraged Liesl to call the Board (at 718-467-5574 or 718-467-5586 or 718-467-5620) and see if she can get on the agenda for the next meeting. If not, everyone should go anyhow! The Parks Committee is very friendly and would likely love to hear about this project.
The next Parks Meeting is:
Tue, February 3, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
St. John's Recreation Center, 1251 Prospect Place (between Troy and Schenectady Aves)
This site was included in a list of sites that developers are being asked to apply to build housing on by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (see http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/developers/request-for-qualifications/nihop-ncp-rfq.page).
The list was published on January 14, 2015 and developers' responses are due on February 20, 2015. The fact that this site was included DOES NOT necessarily mean that housing will be developed here, but it does me that HPD is encouraging housing development and is not likely to consider other uses for the time being. If no one applies for this site, it may again be available in March!
The list and RFQ are products of HPD, under the direction of the Mayor's office. Development is not certain - this is simply a request for developers to apply to become qualified to build in these sites.
This site has been slated for the "homeownership"' program:
1-4 unit homeownership OR
up to 14 unit coop program
with a preference given to developers who propose to have 1/3 of the units going to people making 80-90% of the Area Median Income (AMI; about average income for New Yorkers) and the rest being market-rate or affordable to those making more.
This article sums things up pretty well (and has the voices of folks from across the 596 Acres network): http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150116/morningside-heights/community-gardens-threatened-by-de-blasios-affordable-housing-plan
You can let your City Council member, the mayor's office and HPD know if you have feedback about the program or the selection of this site.
Kianoosh - that's great! Can you click the green 'organize' button in the top left hand of the lot's page to enter your information? We can be sure to bring you into the organizing along with Liesl!
I live in the area and just wanted to leave a note of support. I've joined the list and would love to be involved!
Liesl and other teachers are working on compiling another list of supporting signatures. They're still super excited to hopefully have this garden for their kids someday soon!
Liesl (the organizer who teaches at the the school across the street) is working on an amazing proposal! Lastly, she's compiling the signatures from parents and neighbors and a letter from the school's principal. Before too long she'll be talking to the Parks Committee of Brooklyn CB8 to get a letter of support (an essential last step)!
I spoke to Glinda Andrews, the chair of the CB8 Parks and Recreation Committee, who let me know that if a group would like to present, they can give her a call. She'll arrange for the group to
visit a meeting. Then, the committee will take the proposal to the executive board for full approval. You can call Ms. Andrews at 718-404-8821
Liesl and the other teachers have over 100 signatures! They are working on their proposal: drawing up a plan and finishing their mission statement. Next, they'll try to arrange a meeting with Brooklyn Community Board 8.
Lin (not Lynne, whoops!) at HPD says that the group can pursue creating a garden here through GreenThumb! She checked with Charlie Marcus, Director of Planning, as well. HOORAY!
HPD does not have any information about the deli next door claiming they are leasing the space. Strange...
I spoke with Lynne Cheng this morning. She is finding out a little bit more about this lot. She's sending two emails out:
To the New Constructions Dept of HPD to find out what the status of the New Foundations Program is. This program involves sending out an Request for Proposals for a group of smaller lots scattered in the area.
To the Property Management Dept of HPD. This property is owned and managed by HPD, so it's unlikely that any other agency would have leased it out to the deli next door. Still, Lynne's going to check into it.
Overall, Lynne thinks a garden here might be an option, especially since temporary raised beds could be placed on the cement.
We had a great meeting! Elissa, Liesl, another teacher and myself tried to speak to the men that own the deli next door. They weren't unfriendly, but they claim that they have a lease with the city to use the the space for a driveway. I was surprised to hear this, as HPD did not mention this when I previously spoke to them. I will follow up with HPD to see if there's any truth to it. Either way, the teachers would love to share the space with the deli so that they can continue to use part of it for deliveries. We submitted a request to GreenThumb to check with HPD to see if using this lot was a serious possibility, but Rasheed Hislop, Deputy Director of GreenThumb, let us know that HPD is taking unusually long and will check up on them again.
We also walked over to Pastor Timothy's church and the lot next to it:
We were hoping to catch someone from the church and chat about their progress in getting access to that space, but no one was there. In the past they've mentioned they're open to sharing the space with PS335, but the teachers and students might be a little to eager to get their hands in the dirt, so might opt to focus their energy elsewhere.
We also headed over to the Community Board 8 office and chatted with Julia, the office manager. She gave us tips on what the teachers should provide for their meeting with the CB and encouraged the group to put something together in the next two weeks so they can get on the June Parks Committee Meeting agenda (before the CB goes on summer vacation!). She also suggested the teachers reach out to a center around the corner in the meantime. They have a garden on their property and have reached out to the CB looking for volunteers! (It is not the Weeksville Heritage Center, however, as they've refuted previous proposals for allowing students from the school to garden there.)
Liesl and Elissa have an example petition sheet to collect names of supporters, and will work on getting letters of support from their principal (whom I met, and was very excited and in full support) and other nearby churches and organizations. We also talked about writing letters to Coucilmember and others, as this school REALLY wants a garden and deserves it too! (A reminder: You can click here to view all your elected officials: http://www.mygovnyc.org/?levelofgovt=city&latlng=40.6746804895%2C-73.9276099281)
We're holding a meeting!
Tuesday, May 13th at 3 pm in front of the lot. We'll talk about plans and moving forward, and see if we can catch any neighbors walking by to see if they're interested.
Liesl is waiting to hear back from GreenThumb, who is checking with Housing Preservation and Development about using this site. In the meantime, we're working on planning a meeting or doing some flier-ing. If anyone's interested shoot me an email or call: firstname.lastname@example.org. 718-316-6092 ex 3
Liesl, who is a teacher at the school across the street, would love to get something started here and is communicating with GreenThumb. If anyone would like to get involved by knocking on some of the neighbors door or planning a meeting, let me know!
I spoke to Lynne Chang at Jack Hammer's office. She let me know that there are plans for development for this site in 2016 under the New Foundations Program, though they are vague. The next step would be reaching out to GreenThumb with any plans:
Nancy Kohn, Director
Meredith - I'm glad to hear that the teacher at PS 335 has reached out to you!! If you haven't yet, the first step would be one of you to call HPD's Jack Hammer at the number listed above and inquire if there are any plans for development for the space. Be prepared to read them the address, block, and lot number.
If you hear back that the location has no plans for it, I would be happy to help you two get the attention of neighbors and coordinate a meeting!
This lot is owned by HPD. Visit http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/my_community.jsp to view any open Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the lot.