By Marco Poggio, Reuven Blau
The sun will shine on Prospect Park — at least for a while longer.
Neighbors vowed to continue the battle they have waged against a proposed 23-story residential tower at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
A state Supreme Court justice put the brakes on the work Friday, forbidding the developer, Hudson Companies, from pouring concrete until he can determine whether the project needs a new environmental review.
Critics of the plans have complained the tall building will cast shadows over the beloved park. They hailed the temporary restraining order issued by Justice Peter Moulton.
“Our clients are pleased that the judge has recognized the potential this tower has to cause irreparable harm to the surrounding community,” said Rachel Hannaford, a Legal Services attorney representing angry residents, who plan to take their protest to the steps in front of City Hall on Friday.
Members of the Prospect Park East Network also contend that the new complex would “present serious economic and environmental issues for the historic neighborhood.”
The group says that only 54 of the building’s 254 units — or just over 20% — will be set aside for affordable housing.
Critics called on the New York State Housing Finance Agency to withdraw $72 million in financing, saying the building will benefit only the well-to-do and drive up rents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Hudson is not negotiating,” said Alicia Boyd, 53, who is part of the Prospect Park East Network. “They are saying they are building as-of-right — with our money.”
Hudson Companies principal David Kramer countered that the builder had already secured permits and had the financing in hand when the residents filed their lawsuit; he said it was too far along make big changes now.
The critics are actually a vocal few, Kramer said, and their lawsuit is more about blocking a legally zoned project than forcing any environmental review.
“They’d rather litigate than have a tall building next door,” Kramer said.
Moulton is expected to make a ruling in the next week or two. Meanwhile, Hudson will continue with other work at the site.
Construction was expected to be finished in early 2016, according to the firm’s website.
“The truth is, it’s very expensive to defend yourself in a lawsuit,” Kramer said. “It takes time and energy. We’re not happy this happened, but we think it is going to be a beautiful development for the community.”
with Doyle Murphy