The question was asked by both residents and politicians at a City Council public hearing around Industry City's proposal to rezone.
In a meeting filled with numerous interruptions, there was a smattering of both cheers and jeers from both activists in the audience as well as politicians.
Linda Sarsour — the Brooklyn-born Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York — has her sights set on a future City Council bid, borough presidency, and eventual Mayorship of an independent Brooklyn, according to a mostly gushing profile in this weekend’s New York Times.
Sarsour has been involved with the city’s politics since joining the Arab American Association in 2001. In the years since, she’s fought the Police Department’s systematic spying on members of New York’s Muslim population, and worked on improving immigration policy, boosting voter registration, fighting Islamophobia and, most recently, advocating and organizing for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In addition to enumerating Sarsour’s many accomplishments, the article reads like a love-letter to her Brooklyn bonafides. Below are Sarsour’s top seven Brooklyn credentials as featured by Times political writer Alan Feuer, in reverse order.
This just in from Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office. The City Council reached an agreement with 5Pointz developers to build two condo towers at the 5Pointz site today:
I am proud to announce that we have come to an agreement with the applicants who have submitted a special permit for the property located at 22-44 Jackson Avenue, known as 5 Pointz, in Long Island City. The concessions provided under the compromise will give Western Queens residents as well as artists a wide variety of interactive amenities future generations will benefit from. After working with the applicants on appropriate community give backs, the City Council will be approving the Special Permit. I worked with the applicant to assure that they would do several major give backs. G & M Realty has agreed to build & staff the buildings with 100% union workers, including SEIU/32 BJ & the Building Trades Council, which will lead to over 1000 new jobs in Long Island City. As the son of union parents, nothing is more important to me than building pathways to the middle class. There will also be an increase in the number of affordable units from 75 to 210. Creating affordable housing is incredibly important in the rapidly growing community of Long Island City. I worked to make sure that there would also be a preference for local residents in the affordable units. There is a commitment to the arts in this building. G & M Realty has agreed to increase the amount of artists studio and gallery space to 12,000 square feet. Furthermore, this space will be available to local artists at reasonable rents. G & M Realty has also agreed to offer Johnathan Cohen (Meres) from 5Pointz the opportunity to curate the nearly 10,000 square feet of art panels & walls in the building. It was important for me to honor the history of the building over the last 20 years and to recognize what it had become to the graffiti and aerosol art world. There will be significant amenities to the community as well. The applicant will build a public park that is over 32,000 square feet that will create desperately needed green space. There will also be over 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 250 space public parking garage. By working closely with both the applicants and the community we have ensured that the public will be provided with a responsible development that will guarantee the community of Long Island City continues to thrive.
Two City Council subcommittees will make a preliminary verdict on the $3 billion Willets Point project tomorrow, but local officials continue to push for assurances that the city will invest adequately in infrastructure around the project. More specifically, as Crain’s reports, “they have asked for the city to guarantee it will pay $70 million for traffic ramps leading into the development, which will ultimately include hotel and residential space, from the Van Wyck Expressway.” The city hasn’t allocated any funds for the ramps, despite previously promising to include them in the project. For a proposal that’s shifted its focus from housing to retail development, the ramps will increase accessibility to the site for future residents, as well as accelerate housing development in the area.
Willets Point United issued an open letter to council members regarding the traffic ramp. The letter states, “Obtaining $70 million for highway ramps does not address the overriding problem with this project: the construction of a huge mall on parkland; AND, it alone does not and cannot guarantee that any housing will ever be constructed, because the project contract still contains escape clauses.” They urge City Council to deny the plan altogether, stating that the community does not want the proposed project at all and there needs to be a guarantee for affordable housing. An opinion piece in the New York Daily News echoes that sentiment, saying: “The proposal to build a massive, 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall inside Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a poster child for everything that is wrong with development in our city.” Meanwhile, Queens Crap asks, “Why the hell should taxpayers foot the bill for the Wilpons’ highway ramps?” After the subcommittee’s vote on the matter tomorrow, the full City Council will vote on the proposal as early as next week.
At a City Council hearing this week, 5Pointz owner David Wolkoff promised to include 209 affordable apartment units in the condo towers replacing the graffiti mecca. That number’s up from the 75 units promised over the summer. The two buildings proposed, each 47 and 41 stories tall, will hold around 1,000 luxury apartments. DNAinfo reports that Wolkoff upped the affordable units and also pledged to create 1,000 union jobs after discussions with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. The developers also plan to reserve some space for artists’ studios. The City Council will hold another hearing on the 5Pointz proposal today, and DNAinfo says that a vote could come as early as next week. The City Planning Commission approved the plans in August.
The City Council just passed a resolution asking Congress to make co-op and condos eligible for federal storm recovery grants, reports Queens Courier. Citywide, co-op and condo owners have been denied FEMA grants for property damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The word “co-op” isn’t included in the law, despite no statute banning co-op owners from being eligible for grants. According to the Courier, “Co-op and condos are also categorized as ‘business associations,’ which makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants. It also means they cannot get funds to fix shared spaces like lobbies and roofs.” The measure to amend the law went through Congress in two weeks, and now it’s at a subcommittee on the House’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The Department of City Planning recently proposed to rezone Ozone Park to help preserve the neighborhood’s small-town character, which is known for its one- and two-family homes. NY1 reports that the current zoning of Ozone Park doesn’t differentiate between the residential blocks and the main streets. According to City Planning, “Development isn’t occurring in the most appropriate locations.” John Young at the DCP elaborates: “We’re seeing one and two family housing torn down and replaced by housing, which is much denser than the surrounding context, and yet very little investment for new commercial and mixed use buildings on the main streets.” The proposal on the table is to rezone 530 blocks bounded roughly by Rockaway, Atlantic and 101st avenues to the north, the Van Wyck and Lefferts Boulevard to the east, the Belt Parkway to the south and Brooklyn to the west. The rezoning would protect one- and two-family homes from higher-density development while providing incentives for commercial and mixed use development in commercial areas. The zoning will also keep commercial areas distinct from residential areas. Currently, the rezoning proposal is in the public review process. The City Council is expected to vote on the matter early next year.
It’s a big election day tomorrow as New Yorkers will come out to vote in primary elections for mayoral candidates and City Council members. If you’re not sure who your City Council member is, what district you live in, or who your district candidates are, the New York City Campaign Finance Board Voter Guide is now online, and the Daily News has a helpful guide for every district in the city. There’s also an election for borough presidents, but State Sen. Eric Adams is running unopposed in Brooklyn. And Charles J. Hynes and Kenneth P. Thompson will face off in a competitive race for Brooklyn District Attorney. The Times points out that both candidates were involved in racially charged, controversial cases that divided the city’s black and white communities.
Photo by Charles16e
Last week the City Council approved a sizable rezoning in Woodside and Richmond Hill along Jamaica and Atlantic Avenues south of Forest Park. According to The NYC Department of City Planning the goals of the rezoning were to:
– Reinforce neighborhood character and established building patterns by updating existing zoning with new lower-density contextual zones
– Direct new residential and mixed-use development to major corridors and locations near mass transit resources
– Support economic development along two distinct corridors and prevent commercial intrusion onto residential side streets