04/14/14 9:30am

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New York Daily News has annointed Williamsburg’s Wythe Avenue the new Meatpacking District, which will probably sound like pretty old news to anyone who’s visited the area in the last few years. It’s only going to get more so, predicted the story, which ran down three of the hotel projects planned for the street, which The Real Deal also profiled last week.

The gravitational pull of Brooklyn’s new nightlife district is giving new meaning to the old term “bridge and tunnel,” according to the story.

“The whole bridge-and-tunnel terminology is becoming outdated,” said Brooklyn Bowl cofounder Charley Ryan. “There are people who live in Brooklyn and think of people in Manhattan as bridge and tunnel.” The Daily News also found a Brazilian tourist who said he spent 90 percent of his visit in Brooklyn. “Williamsburg has a better version of everything I come to New York for. Better people, better food, better clubs and better views of Manhattan,” he said.

Opening soon at the far end of Wythe is the club in Kinfolk Studios, to be called Kinfolk 94. “Made of exposed wood and shaped like a hippie eco-lodge in the Pacific Northwest, 94 is slated to become a rocking dance and performance club when it opens next month,” said the News. Its cedar geodesic dome was praised by the Times in February as an exception to the trend of monotonous architecture in Williamsburg.

“Every year this block gets more tourists,” said Kinfolk spokesman Felipe Delerme. “By 2020, it’s going to be Times Square,” he said, only partly joking.

Wythe Avenue Soars as Global Nightlife Mecca [NY Daily News]

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Community group Prospect East Network has arranged a town hall meeting with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams about high-rise development near Prospect Park in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

PEN has said it wants Hudson Companies to lower the height of its planned 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush to nine stories, which it says is “the current zoning limit for new development in all the other neighborhoods surrounding Prospect Park,” and make 30 percent of the units affordable. They also want to downzone Flatbush and Ocean avenues so new developments would not rise higher than 80 feet.

When we stopped by a week ago at 626 Flatbush, above, the site had been cleared but construction had not yet started. The planned development is as-of-right, which means it complies with existing zoning and does not need any variances.

The meeting will take place from 7 to 9 pm on Monday, April 7 at the John Hus Moravian Church at 153 Ocean Avenue. Locals are also planning a prayer vigil before the meeting, at 6:15 pm in front of 626 Flatbush Avenue. Click through to the jump to see the meeting flyer and another photo of the building site. (more…)

12/11/13 4:00pm

The City Council voted yesterday to rezone the former site of the Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick, where developer Read Property plans to build a massive complex of about 10 buildings spanning about five blocks, DNAinfo reported. The mixed-use buildings will rise seven and eight stories high and house 977 rental apartments and 54,000 square feet of retail.

Councilwoman Diana Reyna and local housing advocates negotiated with the developer to increase the number of affordable units from 20 percent to 30 percent of the development. However, as DNAinfo pointed out, the deal with Read is not legally binding and not part of the plan approved by City Council.

Rezoning of Rheingold Brewery Site in Bushwick Approved by City Council [DNAinfo]
Bushwick Community Groups Call for Deal With Rheingold Brewery Developer [Brownstoner]
Rendering from Read Property via New York Daily News

12/10/13 9:00am

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A larger than anticipated crowd of over 200 people showed up to discuss their concerns and wishes and help plan the future of Gowanus development Monday night at The Children’s School on Carroll Street. The meeting was the first of a series of public planning forums called Bridging Gowanus convened by local politicians about the ongoing development of and cleanup plan for Gowanus. The Pratt Center for Community Development moderated and presented findings from previous invitation-only meetings held over the summer.

City Council Member Brad Lander remarked that with the EPA’s Record of Decision for the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site and the impending transition at City Hall, it’s an important moment for the community to come together and establish a shared vision for the infrastructure of the low-lying and industrially polluted Gowanus area before planning begins. The consensus of the crowd was that every effort should be made to preserve the area’s socioeconomic diversity and keep it affordable for the mixed uses (manufacturing, residential, commercial, artistic) that currently exist. A number of local artists in attendance expressed fears of gentrification and said they felt threatened by the diminishing affordability of studio space. In brief, locals called for a rezoning to preserve affordability and Gowanus’ eclectic identity as a community with vibrant street life and activity.

Other issues raised included the need for a permanent protection plan against coastal disasters; it was noted that the current recovery infrastructure is insufficient to handle even regular rain. The group also said another priority is more schools and suitable health care facilities to accommodate the area’s growing residential population. They would also like the canal to be opened up as a recreational public waterway.

A series of followup meetings will be held early in 2014. In the meantime, anyone interested in joining a working group can contact info@BridgingGowanus.org.

Gowanus Residents Meeting to Create Development Plan [Brownstoner]

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The Prospect Park Alliance and residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens are calling for a zoning change that would put a stop to high-rise developments on the edge of the park, NY1 reported. A group called Prospect Park East Network has formed to fight Hudson Companies’ planned 23-story high rise in the area, above, and is circulating a petition and a rendering to illustrate the impact on the park.

The area is the only one ringing the park that permits buildings of such height, according to Prospect Park East Network. The development at 626 Flatbush Avenue “will tower over Prospect Park, violating the unspoiled natural views which are a public amenity,” said their petition. The group also contends the development will increase rents in the area.

“We haven’t asked for any special variances, so what we’re doing is as-of-right zoning,” the story quoted Hudson Companies Vice President Alison Novak as saying. “And I think that when City Planning put together the zoning code, they were very careful about light and air and shadows. So I don’t think that that will be actually a major issue.”

Hudson is moving ahead with demolition on the site this year, and the city says it’s looking into the rezoning requests, said NY1.

Plan for High Rise In Prospect Lefferts Gardens Meets Community Opposition [NY1]
Rendering via Hudson Companies

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The City Planning Commission approved a rezoning for a mostly empty industrial site covering at least five large blocks in Bushwick despite residents being upset that the local community board had voted on it behind closed doors. Community Board 4 approved the proposal in June but asked for more affordable housing.

The rezoning will permit 10 eight-story “70-and 80-foot towers, 977 apartments (many of them luxury units), retail, added streets, a school and additional open space,” according to DNAinfo. Only 24 percent, or 242, of the rental units would be “affordable,” said the Daily News. Retail, courtyards, and a garden would take up 54,000 square feet.

A new group called the Northwest Bushwick Community Group has formed to lobby for affordable housing and plans to meet with developer Read Properties, according to the Daily News. The development site is the old Rheingold brewery, which closed in the 1970s.

The rezoning still has to be approved by the City Council. The complex is supposed to be finished by 2016.

City Planning Commission Approves Massive Rental Project in Bushwick [NY Daily News]
Controversial Bushwick Rezoning Approved by City Planning Commission [DNAinfo]
Closing Bell: City Planning Met on Rezoning of Rheingold Brewery Site [Brownstoner]
Rendering from Read Property via New York Daily News (more…)

10/18/13 11:30am

When we stopped by the construction site at 505 St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights recently, we found the site cleared and a rendering tacked to the fence. The drawing shows a nine-story building. As previously reported, plans call for a 128-unit rental designed by Isaac and Stern Architects. When we checked the DOB site, we found that a permit had been issued in August for a seven-story building with a community facility, but a new building application filed last week states the building will be eight stories with 99,821 square feet of residential space only.

An LLC purchased the property in December 2011 for $4,500,000, as previously reported, and the garage that had stood on the lot was demolished last summer. When we stopped by, it looked like excavation was under way, but no foundation had been poured yet. (Click through the jump to see a picture.)

The DOB issued a full stop work order on the site last week after conducting an inspection regarding the new Crown Heights North zoning change. They note “job not vested,” meaning that the new building permits may have lapsed because of the new zoning, according to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

To us, it looks a little like another building going up in Crown Heights, at 500 Sterling Place. The architects are not the same. What do you think of the design?

Demo Makes Way for Rental at 505 St. Marks Avenue [Brownstoner]
Big New Rental Planned for St. Marks Ave in Crown Hts [Brownstoner] GMAP
(more…)

09/25/13 9:00am

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The City Council yesterday approved the Crown Heights rezoning, which had been requested and recommended by the community board there. The rezoning aims to preserve the existing character of 55 blocks of the neighborhood in an area known as Crown Heights West. At the last minute, the Crown Heights Assembly, an Occupy group that works on housing issues, asked that the rezoning include mandatory affordable housing and a “no harassment zone” (increased penalties for landlords who harass tenants inside the rezoning area), but the rezoning passed without those two measures.

Under the rezoning, new developments will be allowed on Bedford and Franklin avenues, but their height will be limited. Developers will receive incentives for voluntarily including affordable units. The area is bounded by Atlantic, Pacific, Dean and Bergen to the north; Nostrand to the east; Eastern Parkway on the south; and to the west, by Washington and Grand avenues. In a prepared statement, Council Member Al Vann praised the rezoning while acknowledging that more could be done to make housing “truly affordable to individuals at the median income level” in the area, which he represents. “I fully support Community Board 8 and the Crown Heights Assembly’s demands for these policy improvements,” he said.

Occupy Challenges Crown Heights Rezoning [Brownstoner]

09/11/13 4:00pm

The City Planning Commission met this morning at 10 am to discuss the rezoning of the Rheingold Brewery site, where developer Read Property Group wants to build a massive commercial and residential development. Community Board 4 already approved a proposal to have the site rezoned in July during a closed meeting, but the decision could be declared invalid because the public wasn’t present. (City Council Member Diana Reyna said she is investigating.)

The developer proposes to build eight 10-story buildings housing 977 apartments and 54,000 square feet of retail space. Twenty percent of the apartments will be affordable housing. The mostly vacant property between Bushwick and Evergreen Avenues is currently zoned for manufacturing, and the developer has to undergo a lengthy public review process to have it rezoned for residential and commercial use.

No word yet on what happened at the meeting this morning, but we will let you know as soon as we do.

Bushwick Pushes Back on Huge Development Plans [Brownstoner]
Developer Moves on Plans for Big Bushwick Complex [Brownstoner]
Rendering from Read Property via New York Daily News

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City Council candidate Stephen Pierson said if he is elected, he will fight the Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street developments on two fronts. One, he will sue to ask a court to review the city’s 2005 rezoning because the environmental impact report done at the time is now outdated, said a story in DNAinfo. The suit would request a change from R8 to R6 zoning, which would cap the buildings at 15 stories. Two, he said, he would also try to get the area downzoned at the City Council and community board level. (The community board voted no on the 2005 rezoning but was ignored.) Previously, the city downsized heights allowed on Grand Street in Williamsburg in 2008, said the story. “I am not opposed to development,” said Pierson. “However, development must proceed responsibly, and within the context and infrastructure capabilities of our existing communities. I’ve seen no evidence that Greenpoint Landing and Commercial Street are responsible or can be supported by Greenpoint’s infrastructure.” Note: The developers of 77 Commercial Street are waiting on a rezone so they can build 400 feet higher, and they hope to get it from the city via the land-use review process. What do you think of Pierson’s statements?

City Council Candidate Pledges to Fight Slated Greenpoint Towers in Court [DNAinfo]

08/09/13 12:00pm

Welcome to The Hot Seat, where we interview folks in real estate, architecture, development and the like. Introducing Amy Nicholson, the director of Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride. The documentary focuses on the fight between Zipper operator Eddie Miranda, Coney Island real estate developers, and the City of New York. The film begins its theatrical run today, August 9, at the IFC Center. UPDATE: The IFC has extended Zipper with an additional week on a matinee schedule – 2:15 pm daily starting Friday, August 16th and going through next Thursday, August 22nd.

Brownstoner: Where do you live, and how did you end up there?
Amy Nicholson: I live on West 12th Street in the Village. I got here by way of Baltimore, San Francisco, Chicago, New York (Soho), Minneapolis, and San Francisco again before I got back here. Once I figured out that this was place I really wanted to live, I hunkered in on West 12th Street. I will leave when I am an old lady.

BS: What first drew you to Coney Island and how did you decide to start filming there?
AN: Well, I grew up in Baltimore and spent my summers at the county and state fairs and also going to local carnivals. There was always a Zipper. It was a mean ride and it was my favorite. I also lived in Ocean City, M.D., during the summers as a teenager and the same beach/carnival culture combination exists there as it does in Coney Island. So the Zipper represents my entire childhood – before computers and iPads there were black light posters, Wacky Packages and rides like the Zipper. When I read in the Daily News back in 2006 that the Zipper was leaving Coney Island, my heart sank. I had to do something.

After the jump, Amy discusses the controversy over Joe Sitt, her thoughts on the redevelopment of Coney, and her favorite moment shooting the film. (more…)

07/31/13 10:45am

The Crown Heights Assembly, an Occupy group that is working on housing issues, is demanding changes to the Crown Heights rezoning a week before the City Planning Commission vote, DNAinfo reported. The rezoning is a downzoning aimed at preserving the existing character of the neighborhood that limits new construction in a 55-block area of Crown Heights in exchange for letting developers build on Franklin and Bedford avenues, as long as they include affordable units. (Above, a development on Franklin Avenue.) In an online petition, the Assembly wants mandatory affordable housing and increased penalties for landlords who harass tenants inside the rezoning area. A commission spokesperson said the group would review any comments it received before the vote. MySpace NYC sued the Crown Heights Assembly earlier this year.