Ridgewood residents & reps fight to stop a proposed five-story apartment house

Photo courtesy of Property Shark

Five lawmakers representing Ridgewood have written to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking that he work to halt the construction of a new apartment house that they say is out of character with the historic neighborhood.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan along with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblyman Mike Miller and state Senators Michael Gianaris and Joe Addabbo urged the mayor in a Dec. 22, 2016, letter that his administration intervene with regard to the construction of a five-story, 15-unit apartment house at 455 Onderdonk Ave. A two-story building, formerly used as an electrician’s office, currently occupies the site.

Ridgewood “is made of a majority of one-, two- and six-family homes topping out at about three stories,” the lawmakers told de Blasio in their joint letter. If constructed, the five-story structure “would be completely out of character” with the community’s housing stock, much of which is included in landmark and historic districts.

Nearly 3,000 Ridgewood buildings are listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, and about a third of them are within three landmark districts established by the city in recent years. While the Onderdonk Avenue property is not located within a landmark district, the lawmakers said that any new structure developed at the site “would be better suited to be built at a much lower height and scale.”

“As a result of these policies, Ridgewood has become the largest historic district in the city, and we would welcome additional sections, including this location, to be landmarked as well,” the lawmakers wrote.

Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, told QNS that two of its board members (who are architects) are looking into whether there’s anything that can be done to restrict the “as-of-right” development of the five-story structure.

“It’s out of character,” Kerzner said of the proposed building. “It concerns me because it can be done as-of-right. … We’re going to be challenged at all corners because of the economic marketplace. Who knew five years ago that so many people would want to buy property in Ridgewood?”

In concluding their letter, the elected officials urged the city and the developer to “take a step back and listen to the community,” and that an agreement be reached “to develop responsibly so that the new building has the look and feel of the surrounding area.”

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