Saving The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Please Make a Donation To Raise Money To Save BBG


bbg conservatoriesIn the late 1980’s the Brooklyn Botanic Garden enlarged their greenhouses and created three conservatories. along the Washington Ave side of the Garden. The conservatories are distinct ecosystems that are very sensitive to light and shadows.




 BBG Requests Protection

The lead architect, Mr. Jerry Olanoff, wrote a letter to the Departmentletter of City Planning, advising them of the danger of development along the Garden. Mr. Olanoff wrote “The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Conservatory Renovation and Addition has recently started construction.  This makes the need for protection from shadows cast on the greenhouses by any adjacent new construction relatively imminent.”












DCP Confirms Danger.

The Department of City Planning "DCP" confirmed this danger and stated in their findings DCP danger “A developer seeking to take advantage of park views is encouraged by the existing zoning to construct a 13 story building…..building heights encouraged along parklands is of importance in this area given the possibility of shadows from new tall buildings being cast on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Greenhouses for detrimentally long periods of time.”











The Department of City Planning Identifies "Soft" Sites

dcp softAs a result, in 1991 The Department of City Planning placed height limits of 6 to 7 stories on the soft site C.













Rezoning Attempt in 2014

In 2014 there was a plan to rezone the entire community, via a "study" request to the Department of City Planning "DCP". (DCP has a 99.9% of having their studies become law.) During the discussion regarding parameters it was noted that members of the Community Board 9, who were pushing for the rezoning, insisted upon including the soft spots that already had height limits.


The rational for the rezoning study was to "down zone" the community. However, if that was the case why did they insist upon including an area that already had been down zoned and had protections?


Alicia Boyd from MTOPP, made the correct analysis when she stated (4:30 minutes) "Washington Ave is already protected, Washington Ave should not be on the resolution to be studied, if it already has height limits, why do you want to study it? Of course you want to study it so you can do inclusionary zoning (now called MIH) and get sky rises behind Washington Ave and then build up and over with air rights. (To "study" a community or land, means to reconsider the zoning of an area. Zoning is only good until the next new zoning change.)


Community Resistance To Rezoning Continued to Protect The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

alicia arrest

(Picture: Alicia Boyd from MTOPP being arrested at a community board meeting, as fellow MTOPP member Maxine Barnes turns her head away in disgust. Ms. Barnes was also arrested in June of 2015 for pushing back against the rezoning request.)


The above comment by Alicia Boyd was made three years ago and now that plan has come to light. Fortunately, for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Community Board 9 was unable to get that rezoning study to be passed because there was tremendous push back from the community, including arrests and a lawsuit filed in court. Currently the case brought on by Alicia Boyd is now on Appeal.

Present Day

Since 1991 a lot has changed when it comes to zoning and protection of communities and their green spaces. Professor Angotti, former Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development describes the role of the Department of City Planning. (Youtube video at 4:30 minutes). He states "New York City doesn't do planning they essentially accommodate real estate deals."

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Real Estate Deal

One of those "Real Estate Deals" is the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program “MIH”.  This allows developers to now going into communities that had height protection and break them. They can go as high as they want as long as they give a percentage of “affordable" housing. 52 out of 59 Community Boards voted this plan down, most believing this was simply a give away to developers, and yet it was passed into law.

Before and After Images

Below are before and after images of the proposed projects of the two developers, Cornell Reality (the brown buildings of 22 story high) and Bruce Eichner (the orange buildings of 42 stories high). It is based upon the worst case scenario and would be the basis of how a shadow study would be performed to determine the negative effects that shadows would cast on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden


before after


Pay To Play - Money Given to Local Elected Officials

We should all now be familiar with the concept of "Pay to Play", where local elected officials receive money from developers to get their projects approved. Mayor de Blasio had seven investigations against him regarding this behavior, but after spending almost 4 million dollars of tax payers money to defend himself, he managed to not get arrested, but was warned that his behavior was suspect. Thus the policy has continued.


At the Community Board 9 Land Use committee on February 13, 2018, where the project was presented to the committee members, Esteban Giron who is from the Crown Heights Tenant Union stated (11:00 minutes in video) "Now it is going to be an uphill battle because Eichner and partners have been consistently funding local politicians campaigns for a decade. No one knew why. Now all of a sudden we have this proposal. Every single elected official of ours has gotten money from them."


Developers Refuse to Build within 6 to 7 Story Height Limit

At the same above meeting former Chairman of Community Board 9 Jacob Goldstein seemed to be speaking on behalf of the developers stated (1:51 minutes) "To build "as of right" (6 to 7 story) is the right thing to do however there is the practically. Developers will not build as of right because they can't make a dollar." (at 3:48 minutes) He stated, "The bottom line for developers is money and if he doesn't see himself making money he will not build as of right. He will figure out a way to make money."


We Must Fight For Our Garden

It is clear that this developer is not going to back down. With Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo not having to face a re-election (this is her last term) and the fact that she has been given the Majority Leader position (the third most powerful position in the City Council) shows that she will support this project to the very end despite any play acting she might perform along the way.


We Need to Fight To Prevent This!bbg after

We need to create a shadow study and prepare for a legal and political battle. Because it is clear that this developer will not withdraw his application and has the backing of the local politicians.


We Need To Act Fast!

We need to move quickly because according to members of the Land Use committee of Community Board 9, the developers are already planning to do a fast track application with the Department of City Planning. Michael Liburd, Chairman of the Land Use Committee stated (2:51 minutes) "...and they are on a fast track to make this happen I'm telling you. They are moving very quickly. I won't be surprise if we get this application (certified application, which starts the clock running of the ULURP Process) by March."

Negotiating for Community Benefits

It also wasn't surprising that members of Community Board 9 Land Use Committee were discussing negotiating for community benefits, especially since we have a Real Estate Lobbyist, Musa Moore, as the Chairman of Community Board 9 who controls the land use committee. Michael Liburd the Chairman of the Land Use committee literally started out the conversation about the development as an opportunity to gain community benefits. (7:10 minutes) He stated "And to that end, I think the Frankin Ave project is going to be an opportunity for us to get more out of the city. Use that as an opportunity to get what people want out of the MIH program."

(The MIH program is the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Amendment, which allows developers to go into communities and break height limits and build as tall as they want, as long as they give some "affordable" units.)


We Do Not Want to Negoiate Our Garden!

Despite members of the Land Use committee trying to get community benefits off of this deal, the community came out loud and clear that we do not want to negotiate our garden! Alicia Boyd from FLAC Flower Lovers Against Corruption and MTOPP The Movement To Protect The People stated; (at 9:40 minutes) "We are now considering the idea that we can negotiate to a have a 40 story building impede all along our garden, when the whole reason why it was down zoned was to protect it? Are we not now the protectors of that garden? This is our community, that is our garden, we have the right and we should demand that that garden remain protected!"

Plan of Action

We Need to Do Our Own Shadow Study

shadow studyIt is clear that this developer will not be backing down and we need to prepare for not only a political battle but a legal one as well. We need to first do an environmental assessment (which can take several months) that will include an in-depth Shadow Study. The Shadow Study will show exactly how long in length the shadows will impede upon the Garden and how long they will last. This is the evidence that we will need to then legally challenge this project.

We Need to Prepare for a Legal Challenge

With the evidence that would be produced regarding the shadow study we will be able to then legally challenge this project in a Court of Law. With the Mayor on down, engaging in Pay to Play scenarios all over the city, we can not at this point depend upon back room negotiating to stop this project. it is clear that this developer has been lining everyone's pocket to make this happen and our local elected officials will be toeing the line, or simply staying out of sight on this issue.

Reaching Out For Help

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden had over 900,000 visitors last year! Currently they have a membership of over 18,000 people. Surely we can pool our money together to save this garden.
It is important that we protect this wonderful space and use everything at our disposal to fight this.



If everyone just gave $20 dollars we would make our goal.

And Please pass this on!!!