Long Beach Zoning Board
Long Beach, New York 11561
RE: Zoning Board Revew of iStar Proposal to Develop the Superblock
Dear Members of the Board,
The purpose of this letter is to recommend that the Board not approve the variance request from iStar to build a 15 story multi-family rental dwelling. The reasons are three-fold:
- The proposed height of the building greatly exceeds the currently approved height restriction and will, thus, forever negatively impact the neighborhood and the City, and establish an undesirable precedent.
- The proposal to have this as a rental property will result in transient tenancy, and likely lead to future issues with the economic viability of the building and its residents.
- The requested building height enables over 530 new families, with over 1,000 new residents; resulting in various problems, including crowding in our schools, crowding on our beaches, significant parking and traffic issues etc.
I attended the last Zoning Board meeting. I was impressed with the Board’s review of the applications discussed prior to the iStar session. It was clear that even a one-foot request for variance was discussed with intelligence; as well as appropriate concern for neighbors and applicant. During these other reviews the Board exhibited a desire to adhere to the existing guidelines, thereby providing a predictable consistency in the neighborhood characteristics.
We request similar consistency and concern for the community during your review of the iStar application. Further, we request that the Board not develop amnesia regarding the time-tested height regulations. Instead, we implore the Board to maintain your sensitivity to neighborhood needs and the future of our wonderful City.
Please do not allow yourselves to forget the wisdom of prior Boards. There is no justifiable explanation for this Board to approve the iStar request as submitted, and forget the hallowed and respected decisions of its previous august members. Attached is an email from another concerned citizen that details the history of these decisions, supporting the need to adhere to precedent.
The iStar sales pitch tried to respond to various concerns, asking us to look at their shiny placards while remaining blind to the real concerns of our citizens.
- We are being sold on the idea that the shadows will not extend to the adjoining street. This argument fails to recognize that two buildings this tall are an eye-sore from all directions since it is so out of synch with every previously approved building design.
- We are being sold on the idea that the proposed elongated profile provides greater corridors of light. This too asks that we limit our gaze, to remain blind to the preposterously tall buildings that rise way above all other edifices.
- We are being sold on the idea that the additional residents and visitors will not choke our beaches, streets and schools. The undesirable vertical density arising from the additional five floors is mathematically clear to all who wish to honestly review this proposal.
- We are being sold on the idea that these rental apartments will always be occupied by young, vibrant, financially secure professionals; while evidence to the contrary is evident from neighboring towns. Let’s not overbuild and become a haven for Section 8.
- We are being sold on the idea that the minor presence of some commercial establishments is for the betterment of the City, recognizing that far better commercial alternatives should be pursued.
- We are being sold on the idea that the small park included in the design will make us forget the concrete and glass of each offending higher floor.
- We are being sold on the idea that the proposed parking spaces will suffice, in a city that is already choking from a lack of adequate parking.
The Community does not want to be sold down the river on this variance! We know that the iStar precedent will be followed by other investors. Is the Board prepared to say “yea” to other similar requests? How can it say “no” to others after you’ve left the barn door open on iStar?
I, and many others in the community, actively seek to have the Super Block developed. Many good ideas have been advanced, as captured on the ImagineLB web site. These proposals dream of development that embellishes the City’s profile, that blends the needs and desires of developers and residents, that enhances the financial and emotional profitability of this City.
Recognizing that developers need to make a profit and recognizing that Long Beach needs development of the Super Block and Foundation Block, we wholeheartedly support development that conforms with the current guidelines and achieves these goals.
If the iStar project cannot be profitable while adhering to the 10-story guideline, then this project should not be approved. Further, if iStar does decide to pursue the project within the guidelines the Board must remain vigilant regarding other project design factors (green space, parking, commercial establishments, financial viability of project and residents).
One additional request. A project of this importance should have a well-advertised meeting set aside exclusively on this topic, at a time that Long Beach residents can attend. Enable the Community to listen to your views. Require iStar to discuss a proposed project that fits within current guidelines. Allow the Community to voice its thinking. This project will have considerably more impact that the typical one-foot variance request. Let’s treat it that way. If the Board approves the variance request, please recognize that you will be at risk that the Community will think that we were sold on a bad idea for inappropriate reasons.