As rent-stabilized tenants at two Crown Heights apartment buildings fight to keep their rents from doubling, another landlord in the neighborhood plans to expand a four-story residential building at 961 Washington Avenue to 11 stories.
Alteration applications filed yesterday reveal that the 29,000-square-foot structure would more than double in size, growing to just over 63,000 square feet of residential space. The number of apartments would increase from 40 to 70 units, and the roof line would rise from 45 to 120 feet.
The landlord, Pinnacle Group, benefits from the property’s relatively large lot and generous R8A zoning. 961 Washington has 40,000 square feet of unused development rights, and the expansion plan would eat up most of them. Pinnacle would be able to eke out an extra 3,000 square feet if contextual zoning didn’t cap the building height at 120 feet.
The building dates back to 1925 and is probably full of rent-regulated tenants. (It’s included on the city’s list of rent-stabilized properties.) Unless the Midtown West-based firm has already emptied the building, it would be difficult to do a major construction project like this without affecting the current residents. In a similar case, a Prospect Heights landlord tried to build a seven-story addition on top of a 42-unit building on Eastern Parkway last year, but he ended up withdrawing the plans after tenants complained.
Pinnacle has already developed a bad reputation among rent-stabilized tenants. Four years ago, the company settled a class action lawsuit with 20,000 rent-regulated tenants, and a judge ruled that it had to pay $2.5 million to tenants rights groups. It also had to adopt new procedures like giving tenants plenty of advance notice for evictions and rent increases.
We suspect that Pinnacle took over 961 Washington last year when it bought the titles to 28 apartment complexes in Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens for $208 million.