Potential high-rises would block sun from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, community says

PROSPECT PARK, Brooklyn — Neighbors and nature lovers are using all their flower power to fight back against development of high-rise buildings that would cast a large shadow over Brooklyn Botanic Garden, blocking sunlight the plants and flowers need.

Several hundred people at a community forum Wednesday night learned what could potentially happen to their Prospect Park neighborhood and their beloved Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

“This is absolutely terrible,” Valerie Ross said after she heard about the proposals. “I’m horrified.”

Ross has a membership to the garden.

“I’m seeing the information about the shadows and even what’s going to happen with the sun hitting it,” she said. “It’s terrible our neighborhood is being swallowed by redevelopment people.”

The botanic garden is known for its plant collection – a place where tourists and locals alike come to take in the beauty of nature. Gentrification has long been an issue but now the flowers could be in danger if developers have their way.

“The damage is that plants that grow in the conservatories and greenhouses and in the garden will struggle by losing a significant amount of sunlight [because of] the shadows cast by these proposed buildings,” LaShaun Ellis, a man with the organization Flower Lovers Advocating for Communities (FLAC), said.

FLAC did a study on shadow impact of new high-rises.

“It’s 17.3 acres of shadows that will be cast by these proposed buildings, it’s too much,” Ellis said.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden confirmed to PIX11 there are two development proposals on land owned by the city along Franklin Avenue right behind the garden.

Concerned residents want the city to step in.

“Brooklyn seems to becoming the playground for the rich,” said Maxine Barnes , with the organization Movement to Protect the People. “Now they’re even attacking the flowers they have no regard it’s just build market rate apartments.”

A spokesperson for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden provided this statement to PIX:

There are two development proposals on Franklin Avenue near BBG: one from Cornell Realty and one from Continuum Company. The Cornell project is proposing buildings around 20 stories. The Continuum project is still in a pre-application phase, but early plans indicated buildings reaching up to 40 stories. In both cases, we are monitoring the projects closely for any potential shadow impact on the Garden.

Continuum Company’s proposal for the former Spice Factory site at Franklin Avenue and Montgomery Street could include a complex of four buildings reaching as high as 40 stories. In order for buildings of this scale to be approved, the City must allow a substantial rezoning of the property. In the case of the Continuum Company’s development, BBG is strongly advocating to maintain the site’s current zoning—which now caps building height at six to seven stories—which was put in place, in part, to protect the Garden’s conservatories from building shadows. Redevelopment of the site is still in an early pre-application stage, but we have been keeping the City of New York—owner of the land upon which BBG is located—apprised of our concerns about shadow impacts.