Two Trees plans to open a climate change-themed miniature golf course and a small urban farm at a vacant industrial lot along the Williamsburg waterfront — before eventually developing the space into the towering “River Ring” development and beach park.
The developer has partnered with dozens of community organizations to offer north Brooklynites a chance to putt their way through lessons in environmentalism while providing a new waterfront open space at the former Con Edison storage facility along River Street near Metropolitan Avenue starting this summer, announced the company’s head.
“We’re thrilled to build these spaces at no cost to taxpayers, with all proceeds going straight back to the organizations who are on the ground every day fighting this existential crisis,” said Two Trees principal Jed Walentas in a statement Monday.
Organizations like the Billion Oyster Project, the Greenpoint YMCA, the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, and Brooklyn Grange will all contribute elements to the 35,000-square-foot space, almost three-quarters the size of a football field.
The Dumbo-based builder announced last year that they were soliciting proposals for a one-year interim use for the waterfront site, before they proceed with their plans for a rezoning to erect two skyscrapers and a riverside park.
Alas, none of Brooklyn Paper’s proposals made the cut, such as reactivating the fuel storage facility and dedicating it to borough saint Mother Cabrini, creating an abstract art piece by planting two trees, or building a room big enough to hold all the critics of the large-scale redevelopment proposal.
Instead, Two Trees took a swing at an 18-hole mini golf course, dubbed Putting Green, which will span a 15,000-square-foot tiered deck along the shore of the East River.
Holes will showcase harmful practices contributing to climate change, such as sea level rise, trash-filled gutters to symbolize waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Other sections will be inspired by ways to combat the environmental emergency, like wind energy, hydropower and energy-efficient buildings.
The second and larger part of the lot’s interim use is a 20,000-square-foot urban farm, with an aquaponic section for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers, along with a composting site, a pollinator meadow and a two-hive apiary.
The farm will host events like workshops about aquaponic farming with Oko Farms, classes about composting with muck expert Domingo Morales of Compost Power, and talks and demonstrations about beekeeping with Island Bee Project.
There is also a 64-gallon bin for oyster drop-offs for the public and local eateries to deposit their leftover shells, which the Billion Oyster Project will recycle to restore reefs.
The developer has billed River Ring as an environmentally conscious project, with its planned 2.9-acre waterfront park and the additional 3 acres of sheltered water area acting as a resilient shoreline. Its marshes, tidal pools and breakwaters will help protect more than 500 inland properties from flooding, they said.
The building will also have its own micro grid to lessen demand on the Con Edison system along with water reuse infrastructure to capture and purify the site’s own wastewater, reducing discharges into the city sewer network, according to the developer.
The project will bring in 1,050 new apartments across two 710-foot and 560-foot-tall towers — including 263 apartments earmarked at below-market-rate rents — along with office space, retail and a new YMCA with a pool.
Two Trees is aiming to complete the roughly seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for a rezoning to allow residential development on the lot by the end of this year, before Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves office and elections shake up the City Council.
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.
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