In 2009, the western half of Sunset Park was, like many outer borough neighborhoods, rezoned, with a combination of downzonings on the side streets and upzonings on the main thoroughfares.
Properties on Fourth Avenue in particular were granted more development rights, rezoned to R7A, allowing floor-area ratios of four (instead of the old three) and heights of up to 65 feet, or about six stories – traditional tenement-scale development.
The real estate downturn and general intransigence of retail strips make redevelopment difficult, however, and except for a few public buildings, there has not been any new construction on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park since the rezoning.
That may be about to change, however, with a permit application filed for a significant alteration at 5107 Fourth Avenue, on the eastern side of the street between 51st and 52nd Streets.
There, Borough Park-based developer Ave Equity Realty Holdings, led by Hershy Beigel, is planning to convert the existing two-story structure into a five-story mixed-use building. It would hold 12 apartments spread over more than 9,000 square feet of residential space on the new third, fourth, and fifth floors, and retain commercial space on the first and second. The architect is Julien Flander, popular in Hasidic circles, and the developer picked up the property late last year for a bit over $3 million.
While we’re glad to see this permit filing, the Department of City Planning must take into consideration the difficulty in rebuilding major thoroughfares in the future, where high retail rents (a problem for both Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park and Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan today, as well as the adult-industry-laden West 42nd Street of the 1980s) and long leases make redevelopment more difficult than on residential side streets. Either the floor-area ratios on Fourth Avenue should have been higher, to incentivize demolition of existing profitable uses, or the side streets should not have been frozen in place.
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