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January 10, 2011

Stores Planned Near Brooklyn Marsh

The Wall Street Journal
by Joseph De Avila

Forest City Ratner is in the process of destroying a large swath of Prospect Heights to make way for a basketball arena. Now they've turned their sights on an environmentally fragile section of Mill Basin, where they plan to build — wait for it — a car dealership.

A plan to transform a 15-acre swath of land near Four Sparrow Marsh in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, into a car dealership and retail center has drawn criticism from local conservation groups.

The city has eyed this area for development for more than a decade, but locals have opposed adding retail projects along traffic-clogged Flatbush Avenue.

We have great concerns," said Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon, a conservation group. New York City Audubon has pushed to protect the marsh, home to several threatened species of birds, and its surrounding area since the late 1980s.

The plan calls for a 110,000-square-foot Cadillac dealership to be built next to an existing Toys "R" Us store on Flatbush Avenue. The new retail center, covering at least 127,000 square feet, would be located just south of the toy store and north of the Four Sparrow Marsh.

The project is scheduled to begin the city's land use process this spring. Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. will oversee the project, breaking ground in 2014.

"This area has not only some of the best demographics in the country, but is extremely under-retailed as well," Andrew Silberfein, executive vice president and director of finance and retail development at Forest City Ratner, said in a statement.


At issue is the 67-acre Four Sparrow Marsh, which is currently a nature preserve and the nesting site of several threatened species of birds, like the seaside sparrow. The project could hurt the amount and quality of water in the basin, said Mr. Phillips with New York City Audubon. It could also disrupt the nesting of several species of birds, he said.

The city will work to ensure that the project proceeds with negligible environmental impacts, said Julie Wood, a spokeswoman with the New York City Economic Development Corp.

"That's something we take seriously on all of our projects," she said.

And surely, their consultant — let us go out on a limb and guess it will be AKRF — will take seriously the need to deliver an Environmental Impact Statement that reveals... no impact!

The retail center would be located less than a mile away from Kings Plaza Shopping Center, also on Flatbush Avenue. In the past, the local community board has opposed retail projects that would add to local traffic.

"Flatbush Avenue is a disaster," said Dorothy Turano, district manager of the board.


NoLandGrab: Wait, we thought it was "under-retailed."

Posted by eric at January 10, 2011 10:22 PM