Fight over Cortelyou
BY JESSICA PARKS
Ditmas Park residents are demanding
an end to a proposed upzoning of a
Cortelyou Road grocery store — claiming
the proposal fails to consider the
needs of the community.
“What we want is a good building
for the community,” said Elana Reinholtz,
a founding member of the neighborhood
grassroots group Save Cortelyou,
which organized in response to
the 1620 Cortelyou Road proposal.
Tony Doleh, co-owner of the onestory
Key Food at E. 17th Street, is
seeking approval to build two stories
taller than the current zoning restriction
of seven stories — arguing the extra
fl oors are needed to make room for
a supermarket in the residential structure.
But residents contend that the
building will stand much higher than
the proposed two stories when considering
bulkheads, and will tower over
the rest of the Victorian enclave.
The fi ve-person community group
is calling on the grocer to construct a
building that benefi ts their community
with real affordable housing and climate
resiliency measures, and charge
that the current proposal doesn’t provide
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“Come with your proposal and show
that you listened to the community,”
Reinholtz asked of developers, adding
that the plan’s proposed 21 units designated
“affordable” under the city’s
Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program
“are not affordable, and they are
not what the community needs.”
The fewer than two dozen “affordable
units” are representative of developers
doing the bare minimum within
the 85-unit structure, said activists,
who are demanding that they offer a
higher number of affordable units at
prices set for the real incomes of Ditmas
Park families, and at sizes suitable
Moreover, members of Save Cortelyou
fear the development will drive
up housing prices in the neighborhood
south of Prospect Park — effectively
driving many out of their homes.
Members of the volunteer advocacy
group say they have been putting in
more than 40 hours a week collectively
to educate their neighbors on the incoming
development, which will force
the grocery store and a laundromat to
close during construction.
The proposed development could
also put the nearly 100 employees at
the grocery store out of a job, the activists
said, and could require the rerouting
of two widely-used city buses.
The group has been making daily
calls to their local representatives to
discuss the proposed development. As
of Dec. 7, the activists said they had not
received a response from area Councilman
Mathieu Eugene, who holds
outsized infl uence over the project’s
approval in the City Council.
“We don’t know how Eugene is going
to vote,” Reinholtz said.
Save Cortelyou organized a socially
distanced rally last month that saw
over 100 participants and was attended
by six City Council candidates, but not
by their elected councilman.
“We are at 250 calls and counting…
and 100 people in and out of the rally,”
said Reinholtz. “And we have not gotten
a call back.”
Community Board 14 issued an approval
on the development’s rezoning
on Nov. 9 hinged on a long list of conditions.
The board asked the developers
to increase affordability measures,
reconfi gure the building’s setback,
research the proposed structure’s
shadow, demonstrate that there are no
City Council candidate Josue Pierre at a rally
against the proposal.. Elana Reinholtz
environmental concerns on the property,
expand on a traffi c study, provide
bike storage for residential and
public use, and commit to providing a
greener streetscape plan with regular
maintenance and plantings.
Eugene’s offi ce and Tony Doleh’s
lawyer did not respond to requests for
Ditmas Park residents organize against Key Food upzoning
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