Following a long back-and-forth process that included several design changes, the proposed residential development at 959 Sterling Pl. (also referred to as 920 Park Pl.) has been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).
The design for the Crown Heights development was given minor tweaks following the last hearing in March, where LPC commissioners responded favorably to the proposal hinting their formal approval was not far off.
Throughout the hearing, commissioners lauded the project's architect Morris Adjmi for his flexibility and willingness to hear out criticism.
"I think that the project has improved," Commissioner Michael Goldblum said. "I think it transitions much more successfully to the neighborhood."
Despite some concern regarding the specific color of the bricks being used in the proposal, the other commissioners agreed, and all those present voted to approve the project.
This was an essential step forward for the proposed development, which is located on the grounds of a historic 19th century building that currently houses the Hebron Seventh Day Adventist School. The existing building's south wing would be demolished in order to build the roughly 200,000 square foot residential development. In addition, necessary repairs would be made to the existing Hebron building.
The site's landmark status means that any development would need the backing of the LPC in order to move forward.
While it was noted that the LPC had received nearly 300 letters in opposition following March's hearing, including ones from Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Community Board 8, and the Crown Heights North Association (CHNA), the contents of these letters were not addressed. It was the second hearing in a row where the concerns of a vocal community opposition were notably absent.
In the first public hearing on the project back in October, over 40 community members testified over the course of the three hour meeting as to why the project was inappropriate. In addition, an online petition started by the community group Friends of 920 Park has gathered nearly 7,300 signatures calling for an end to this project.
Tuesday's hearing was a strong blow to these opposition efforts.
"Thousands of residents, local officials and community groups were utterly dismissed after months of protest," a representative for Friends of 920 Park told BK Reader. "We put our weight against the door of an invading developer, and LPC has nonchalantly unlatched it, and let them in."
The group, in conjunction with CHNA, announced it was fundraising for a lawsuit against the LPC.