BY JORDAN GIBBONS
The St. Albans Civic Association met last Thursday with residents, local officials, members of the Presbyterian Church of St. Albans and its building partners to address the issues the community has concerning the proposed development of an affordable housing project on Farmers Boulevard.
The purpose of the meeting was to host a civil dialogue between the opposing sides, which was achieved, for the most part. At times, the discussion escalated as residents stressed the current state of traffic congestion, parking, overcrowded schools, flooding and the potential for diminished quality of life.
The St. Albans Cycle of Life Project entails a 67-unit housing project between 118th and 119th Avenue. It will be an 81,498-square-foot facility, featuring approximately 6,500-square-feet of community space for the general public and an 800-square-foot space for building residents.
The proposal was rejected by the Dept. of Buildings and will go before the Board of Standards and Appeals on June 24.
Resident Mike Pope said he is opposed to the plan because the size of the project is much larger than the two-to-three-story homes in the area.
“It is our professional and residential opinion that the project is just too big in scope,” he said. “We trust the BSA has objectively evaluated this project and will bring about a decision that respects the interests of this community.”
He asked that residents write to the BSA and give their opinion, for or against the project, especially those who live within 400 feet, the immediate impact radius.
The Rev. Edward Davis, of the Presbyterian Church, spearheaded the project and partnered with Trinity Associates LLC to handle the planning and building.
“Anything the church has done has been for enhancing the community,” he said. “We’re leaders, workers desired to make things happen in this community.”
Davis said the community space will be used for social, recreational and educational job training programs.
Andrea Scarborough, president of the Addisleigh Park Civic Organization, said she stands with the St. Albans Civic Association, citing the area’s zoning parameters, overcrowded schools, traffic congestion and flooding.
“You build within the confines of our zoning,” she said. “To put that development there will only exacerbate the issues.”
St. Albans is a R3A contextual district, which are districts that feature modest single and two-family detached residences on zoning lots as narrow as 25 feet in width.
The developers are seeking three variances from the BSA, one of them is a request to change the floor area ratio and zoning from R3A.
Darryl Hawes, a member of Presbyterian Church and co-developer for Trinity, said that the property has been vacant for 20 years because not one developer has figured out how to develop it.
“To develop it requires a certain amount of units to make it feasible,” Hawes said.
John Saraceno, president of Trinity Associates, said that in order to get the grants and financial sources that will allow the apartments to stay at an affordable rental rate, it needs a certain amount of units.
Another variance Trinity is seeking addresses the height of the building. The current project is three stories along the front on Farmers Boulevard, goes up to four stories along the back and then the fifth story is in the middle of the U-shaped complex.
The third variance is to limit the on-site parking to 23 spaces. Trinity did a parking study that revealed parking spaces along 191st Street, Farmers Boulevard and 119th Avenue, according to Keith Hutson, a St. Albans resident and member of Presbyterian Church who is also on the development team.
The Civic Association is also concerned there will be an extreme surge in population with 200 to 250 additional residents. Trinity anticipates 140 to 160 residents based off of data from similar developments. According to the plans, there will be 33 one-bedroom units and 34 two-bedroom units.
Sandra Peeden, an attorney who ran for city council last year, said the focus should be on improving the issues for the people already living in the community.
“The project doesn’t exactly fit the needs of the community,” she said. “How are we going to strengthen the infrastructure for the people already here before bringing in new people?”
Both the Civic Association and Rev. Davis plan to send buses to the BSA Appeals Hearing on June 24 at 22 Reade St., Brooklyn to voice their opinions before the board.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.