Two Trees Plans Waterfront Park, May Seek Rezoning for Housing on Williamsburg Con Ed Site

Photo by Craig Hubert

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What do Williamsburg residents want in a new waterfront park and development? Peace and quiet.

That was one of the suggestions that came out of a meeting convened by developer Two Trees in late June to brainstorm a want list for a future park on the Williamsburg waterfront it is planning on three lots owned by Con Edison on River Street between Grand Street and North 3rd Street.

The properties include empty fields that were previously home to tanks used to store oil and that have already been decontaminated. The lots are sandwiched between apartment buildings to the north and Grand Ferry Park and Domino Park to the south. Their addresses are 87 River Street, 105 River Street, and a waterfront sliver with no address adjacent to 49 River Street. (The latter is occupied by a natural gas power plant run by New York Power Authority that will continue to operate, according to Crain’s.)

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The natural gas power plant at 49 River Street

The meeting was invitation only, and closed to press. Two more meetings are scheduled to place, on July 10 and 16. About two dozen locals attended, according to a longtime resident who was there.

Some wish-list items included “a peaceful spot to relax,” “access to water,” and “boat and kayak access,” he said.

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Two Trees CEO Jed Walentas said at the meeting the company expects to close on the site in the fall, according to the Brownstoner tipster. It has been rumored the developer may partner with the YMCA on programming, he added. “They did reference there is likely to be a housing component,” he continued.

The site is currently zoned for industrial and commercial use, so adding housing would require a rezoning and the public approval process known as ULURP. If successful, a rezoning would trigger a requirement for affordable housing under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

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The tipster, who has lived in Williamsburg for more than 10 years, said he opposes a rezoning in the already crowded area. “We have yet to see the full ramifications of the 2005 rezoning,” he said, referring to a number of nearby developments under construction.

“Domino Park is great, but it’s very active,” he continued. “Maybe we need a park that is more private” — meaning attracting primarily locals — “because we have plenty of people in the area already.”

Landscape architect Lisa Switkin of James Corner Field Operations and Two Trees head of external affairs Dave Lombino also attended. In addition to priorities for use, design elements, and what doesn’t work in a park, topics of discussion at the meeting included an overview of site conditions and constraints, what’s missing in parks in north Brooklyn, and potential community partners residents would like to see involved in programming.

Two Trees held similar meetings to create its wildly successful Domino Park, the company said.

“We believe there is an amazing opportunity to build another world-class, sustainable waterfront park” on the Con Ed site, Two Trees said in its invitation. “As an integral component of the site’s redevelopment, this new park would connect existing parks and take a giant step towards creating a contiguous waterfront park that extends from the Navy Yard to Newtown Creek.”

[Photos by Craig Hubert]

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