High-rise development threatens future of Brooklyn community garden

For almost 40 years the Rockwell Place Garden has served as a little greenery in the concrete jungle. But a new invasive species is threatening the future of the garden's existence.

In the last 10 years, high-rise buildings have sprouted around the garden trees.

Alloy Development plans to build a tower the size of the Chrysler building on Flatbush just across the street. If it's built, it would be the tallest building in Brooklyn. And, because of its location, it would cut direct sunlight to the garden from more than ten hours a day down to just four.

"This is a very dense urban area and to have this little sliver of green space in the middle of this area that is being developed very rapidly is very important to everybody who lives in the community," Gardener Ryan Bort said.

Eduardo Berisso Told PIX11 the garden helped him win his battle with depression.

"Including the environmental changes, a better diet and exposure to sun, I've made quite a change," he said. "I'm able to stand here and talk to you, something I couldn't do a couple years ago."

During rezoning in the early 2000's, the proposed location was meant to serve as a transition from the new high-rise developments to the classic low-rise brownstones in Brooklyn. But Alloy Development wants to double the current height restrictions, going from 400-feet to more than 800.

"To ask for that block specifically and to ask for a special favor is abuse of their wealth. It's greed," Gardener Jon Crow said.

Others are concerned about the impact on traffic in an already congested area.

"We're not against development...We're just for intelligent development that takes the existing community into account," Bort said.

A spokesperson for Alloy said the plants in the garden will still get enough sunlight if the building is approved:

"Plants typically need a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sunlight, depending on the species...in all seasons, the garden would receive at least four hours of sunlight and in certain seasons, as much as nine hours. A more detailed analysis of the plant species is required, and we have a meeting with Rockwell Bears in April to start that conversation. We hope to work with them and NYC Parks throughout the public review process to identify ways to better forecast what the true shadow impacts will be and to mitigate any impacts to the extent practical."​

The next hearing on the development will take place April 18 at Saint Francis College.