300 Ashland Place
300 Ashland Place Photo: Gregory Ingram

Several dozen real estate professionals and local elected leaders gathered Friday for “RED Night,” which featured the unveiling of 300 Ashland Place in Fort Greene, one of Brooklyn’s newest high-rise apartment buildings, located across the street from BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.

Sponsored by Two Trees Development and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the private event was one in a series highlighting the many development projects that have descended upon downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding communities in the past decade.

And not unlike many of the new high-rise developments in the borough, it comes with a mixed-bag of implications.

The building stands out not just for its sleek, modern design but also for how its space has been allocated. As a mixed-use building, it will feature 379 residential units (76 priced at affordable rates) and 43,000 square feet of retail space and will also host 50,000 square feet of cultural facilities. The ground level, which will be owned by the city, will hold a new branch of the Brooklyn Public library, dance studio and a 10,000 square-foot public square.

“They’re trying to incorporate the community around it,” explained Deandra Levine, a New York City broker.

The $170 million complex has been more than a decade in the making. It was originally intended purely for commercial purposes only but was rezoned for mixed-use in 2008. Like many of the developments around the area, it emphasized residential more than commercial.

But while the addition of new housing is a welcome change for a growing borough, the influx of residential development in Fort Greene has led to a strain on local infrastructure.

Skyview, from the roofdeck of 300 Ashland Place Photo: Gregory Ingram

According to a recent Downtown Rising report, original development predictions planned for only about 1,000 new apartments. Today, the area holds nearly ten times that amount and infrastructure has struggled to keep up. The area lacks basic resources like schools and grocery stores. Trader Joe’s was scheduled to open later this year, but last August, the company announced a delay until 2017.

The neighborhood has also come under fire for its traffic congestion and lack of pedestrian safety.

Developers have contested not just concerns about infrastructure and demand, but also concern from locals about how expensive high-rise development will change the Fort Greene neighborhood.

Gary Steele, who has lived in the area for twenty years said he’s concerned that developments might make the area feel less like a neighborhood.

State Assemblymember Walter Mosley echoed that concern. Change, he said, is inevitable for the community. “The challenge now is the speed and size of the change,” he said.

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Tiffany Owens

Tiffany is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer.

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