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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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…)
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.
The developers Read Property Group LLC are applying to rezone a large swath of Bushwick land to build a development with 10 eight-story buildings, 977 apartments, two extra streets, open space, and retail. Both DNAinfo and the Daily News attended the Community Board Four meeting where the developers presented their plans. (The developer already applied for a rezoning with the City, and now must go through a lengthy land-use review process, as we reported in August.) The proposal, slated for the old Rheingold Brewery site near Woodhull Hospital and the Flushing Avenue J train station, includes 54,000 square feet of retail space, 17,000 square feet of public open space, and 242 units of affordable housing. The developers plan to rebuild two streets that were in the area when it was home to several breweries — Stanwick Street between Montieth and Forest streets and Noll Street between Stanwick Street and Evergreen Avenue. Not surprisingly, these plans were met with many concerns by the community board, which is actually working to downzone areas of Bushwick. CB4 delayed its decision until the developers can provide more information on affordable housing, how much parking will be included, and the impact on local schools. Many residents asked that more affordable housing be included. Once the developer makes it through the community board, they need to take the plans to the borough president and city council for the zoning change. If all goes according to plan, they hope to complete the development in 2016. Developer Read Property Has Vision for Old Rheingold Brewery Site [NY Daily News] Controversial Bushwick Rezoning to Add High Rises, Streets and Retail [DNAinfo] Developer Moves on Plans for Big Bushwick Complex [Brownstoner] Rendering via DNAinfo
The City hasn’t only failed to live up to its promises for parkland, but has built less than 2 percent of the affordable housing it pledged in exchange for rezoning the North Brooklyn waterfront, DNAinfo reported. Eight years ago the City said rezoning would allow 1,345 affordable units on City-owned land in North Brooklyn; in fact, only 19 have been built. The track record is slightly better for privately owned affordable housing: Out of 2,203 promised affordable units, 788 have been built. The City says more affordable housing is in the works, including in the Domino conversion and the controversial Greenpoint Landing complex. A group of nonprofits and local pols are planning a protest Wednesday to demand the City build more affordable housing in the area, where rents have skyrocketed to Manhattan levels. The rally will take place at 6 pm Wednesday, May 22, on Kent Avenue and North 7th Street. City Built Less Than 2 Percent of Affordable Units Promised to Williamsburg [DNAinfo]