Crown Heights Losing Some of its Spice by Arthur Mallett

Developer Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company and Joel Bergstein’s Lincoln Equities have partnered up for a deal to purchase a series of buildings from spice importers J. Golombeck Inc. and build a massive four-building residential complex The Real Deal reports.

Abutting Prospect Park’s east side, the tract at the corner of Franklin Ave and Montgomery Street is comprised of a group of buildings from the early 20th century, when they were home to Consumer’s Park Brewery, one of a handful of pre-prohibition breweries operating at that time. By mid-century the space was taken over by the Golombecks for their spice company, which had operated there ever since. Crown Heights residents have grown accustomed to the smells of cumin, anise, paprika and other spices wafting through the neighborhood air. Unfortunately, if all goes according to plan, that scent will soon diminish and, instead, the sound of construction may begin.

Despite the history of the buildings and the unique Gothic roof features, the property holds no landmark status. It is unclear if any of the original structures will be incorporated into the new plan. The developers intend to make use of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing initiative, which would designate half of the residential units as below market rate. The program allows for much larger buildings than would be allowed for a fully market rate property. The program is intended to utilize the interest of the development sector with the need for affordable housing. Before moving ahead, the plan needs to go through Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), an approval process involving multiple city agencies.

Despite the need for affordable housing, the project could face opposition, as was the case at the nearby Bedford Union Armory. Besides the architectural preservationists who will not want to see these historic buildings demolished, there are many people concerned that building these tall luxury buildings will speed up gentrification of the neighborhood, even with the affordable units included.

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