A last ditch strike against plans to turn Brooklyn’s largest kingpin haven into a massive housing complex ended in a gutter ball on Monday night as a community panel took its first steps toward making the large-scale project a reality.
Community Board 12 members gave their tacit endorsement to plans that will turn Maple Lanes into a 112-unit upscale apartment complex complete with a synagogue and underground parking as only a handful of residents bemoaned the loss of the beloved alley.
“Shouldn’t we be more careful to protect the community?” asked resident Joe Santino, who said he was concerned about Maple Lanes’ employees, as well as those who would have no place to go for recreation once the bowling alley closes. “What about the high schoolers who utilize Maple Lanes as a recreational center?”
Other residents said the added residential units would create a traffic and parking nightmare on 60th Street near 16th Avenue.
“They want to build a parking lot with 56 spots for 112 units. That’s about 25 percent of what they need,” said Dominick Colasanto, the owner Advanced Welding Supply Co. on 61st Street. “Where are all the rest of those cars going to go?”
Building owner John LaSpina, whose father Peter opened Maple Lanes in 1960, said he sold the land because it was worth more than the value of the business.
Presently, the Bensonhurst building is zoned for manufacturing — which would not allow construction of housing. LaSpina wants the city to change the zoning to residential so the new owners can build their apartment complex and a synagogue that would serve Borough Park’s Orthodox Jewish community. A residential zone already exists across the street from the alley.
Most board members spoke in favor of the massive housing project.
“I’ve enjoyed Maple Lanes, but no one compelled the owner to sell,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber. “Once they decided to sell, there’s no better choice then to build housing that is so sorely needed.”
Board member Jacob Haas said he liked the idea of housing in the neighborhood, but felt that some of it needs to be below market value to keep the neighborhood sustainable.
“This community is choked when it comes to housing,” said Haas. “We need something affordable.”
CB 12 is expected to approve the plans at a meeting tonight, insiders say. Developers still need approvals from the Borough President Markowitz and the Council before the zoning change is approved — and Maple Lanes is closed and razed to make way for the new housing units.
The 48-lane center is home to amateur leagues for all ages, an annual scholarship tournament, and scores of casual bowlers looking for a night of glow-in-the-dark bowling on Fridays and Saturdays. For the kids, Maple Lanes offered bowling lessons and free games all summer, according to the bowling alley’s website.
Brooklyn still has a fair amount of bowling alleys, but none come close to the size of Maple Lanes. For instance, Shell Lanes on Bouck Court in Gravesend has 16 less lanes, while the 34-lane Strike 10 Lanes on Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin — formerly Gil Hodges Lanes — turned about half its lanes in 2003 to a gym.
The borough’s bowling scene suffered a big blow four years ago when Mark Lanes on 88th Street in Bay Ridge was demolished and replaced with a parking lot.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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