Say "NO" to Rezoning River St. for 65 story towers on the Williamsburg Waterfront.

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Say “NO” to developers in their attempt to rezone the sites at N.3rd & River St. (by Kent Ave.) to add thousands of new residents to a neighborhood amidst an infrastructure and transportation crisis.

Why do a couple of additional 65 story towers matter?

Williamsburg is in transportation crisis: Even after the L is repaired, it will be able to handle marginally more riders, As AM New York puts it, you’re already “riding in a sardine can,” since ridership at Bedford Ave has quadrupled since 1990.

As per right, the site could be useful commercial space, like Trader Joes:    200 Kent Ave, across the street (same zoning) is being built 5-story commercial, office/retail, anchored by Williamsburg’s long awaited Trader Joes. Which use benefits the community more – yet another tower, or a balance of retail and office space that brings jobs and services to the community?  Why change a site when the current zoning provides much needed balance?

Con-Ed wins and the neighborhood loses: Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate broker for the site, supposedly has a signed contract at an inflated price based on the community approving a residential rezoning. Who benefits from this transaction?  The owner of the site, Con-Ed, will sell the site for more money (estimated north of $125 million), and the new developer will make money from the additional buildings.  But what does the community get?

The 2005 rezoning allowed more density than the community wanted: The 197-a plans (link below) shows what the community asked for in the 2005 rezoning which is shockingly less density than we received. “Dismay with the City approved rezoning was evident in the public protests of April 2005. Critics called the approved 150 ft. to 300 ft. waterfront developments a “wall” and claimed it would disrupt the neighborhoods’ existing character.”  Let’s not further disrupt and add to the “wall.”  

Williamsburg is experiencing the second-largest development growth in NYC:  As per the New York Times, Williamsburg is 2nd to LIC in growth, with1,904 new units in the pipeline for 2019. The bulk of the new inventory is on the waterfront, over 5,800 units have been added since 2008, with over 2,500 planned, to exceed 8,500 units.  All of this development was approved even though the L-train was effectively broken.  Can we trust that anyone is watching to make sure that growth is sustainable and reasonable?  No, and this is why we need to voice our opinion. 

Parking, Garbage, Schools, Infrastructure: We are barely more than half-way through the development in the pipeline and our community is already burdened. Local traffic, especially at night and on spring and summer weekends, can be unbearable. Street garbage and overflowing cans are ubiquitous, and our schools, while vastly improved, are full and wait lists are now common.  A park that was promised as part of the 2005 rezoning, over 14 years ago now, is still not even close to fruition.  It is irresponsible for the city to consider adding more density to this overburdened community.                       

Ferries are small: Each boat carries 150-300 people.  Compared to one L-train that carries 1500-2000 people.  As it stands, the 8500 new residents won’t be able to fit on the boats, so what will we do with 1000+ more?  What if we have another Superstorm Sandy?

Affordable housing is density:  Some folks believe that this is about striking a deal, trading density for things like affordable housing and green space. First, we already did that at Domino, and we have 55 stories, which previously allowed for 40. In general, we are in favor of affordable housing. But, the problem itself is density, and more large scale housing of any kind, is density.  In terms of green-space, we already have 3 piers next door, a simple continuation of the promenade to Domino Park is all that is needed.

This is the community’s decision: Councilman Levin has stated that “he will side with the residents on this one,” so the ball is in our court to let him know that we care about quality of life in our neighborhood and will not allow a site that wasn’t intended for density to further burden our community.

Many people seem to believe this is a losing battle.  What’s another tower? If you review the 197-a plans, you might relate to this losing sentiment. However, people continually told us the same thing about Bushwick Inlet Park.  We sat with Councilman Levin in numerous meetings, and we believe if we make our opinion known, the zoning does not have to change.  We’re not asking for something we don’t have, we’re asking to keep the site as it’s meant to be.

We lose when we don’t act. Who cares about 2500+ next-door neighbors? We do!


Sustainable Williamsburg - Formerly, Friends of the Northside Waterfront




Link to GWAPP article about 2005 re-zoning:

Map of new developments in the pipeline:

Crains article about the site:

Sister-site developed as per right: 200 Kent Ave, sold for 33M: