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 skyscrapers matter?
1. Irresponsible Development: The proposed plan would add 1050 apartments (>2K residents) to a one-way street, bordered by water located in a neighborhood with a troubled subway line in an area that is already suffering from more condo construction than any other NYC neighborhood for the last decade. Williamsburg is not a transit hub suited for high density; it is irresponsible to build more at this location.
2. 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 can be unbearable. Street garbage and overflowing cans are ubiquitous, and our schools 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.
2. No more tax breaks for wealthy developers: The development proposal includes a 35-year tax break to a rich developer. Based on the average unabated tax rate next door at 184 Kent of ~$750/month for 1050 units, this is a savings of $9,450,000/year x 35 = $330,750,000. Our city is in major tax deficit, regardless of whether you agree about the towers; it should be obvious that we should not give huge tax breaks to private developers.
4. Displacement: While a few lottery winners receive “affordable housing” (87,000 applicants for 104 apartments at 325 Kent Ave), data shows the explosion of luxury rentals and $4,000+ 1 bedroom apartments raises the “market rate” of all housing in the neighborhood. How is it possible that ~80K housing units were built in Brooklyn in the past decade and yet it’s far less affordable than it was before? When are we going to realize, affordable housing when married to luxury housing raises neighborhood rents.
5. Their proposed park is deeply flawed and misleading: Although they promise a new waterfront park, the 2.9 above ground acres fails to meet the City recommended 2.5 acres of open space per 1,000 people given their towers will add well over 2,000 new residents. With their proposal we would have less open space per capita with this development than without it.
6. ULURP during COVID: Zoom meetings with selected groups of invited stakeholders is not “community engagement,” it’s impossible to have a public process when we can’t meet in person. The Gowanus rezoning was halted for this reason.
7. The current zoning is better for the neighborhood: One look at the Williamsburg Waterfront and I’m sure you’re thinking…“oh my gosh, what this waterfront really needs is more luxury residential towers!” The current zoning could be a grocery story, Industry City, New Lab, Brooklyn Navy Yard, a low-density site that provides balance and jobs. Why in the world would we want to change it
8. Too much is never enough: The developer has 2300 units two blocks away at Domino, which is less than half built. The waterfront has ~8500 units in the pipeline. It doesn’t make sense to approve more units until we see the impact of the current development in our post-covid world. If we approve this, which site comes next?
8. 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 MUCH 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.”
9. 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.
10. 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?
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 allowing another developer getting their way at the expense of the community, we do!
Sustainable Williamsburg - Visit us at: SustainableWilliamsburg.com
Link to GWAPP article about 2005 re-zoning: http://gwapp.org/about/archive/historical-narrative-2005-north-brooklyn-waterfront-rezoning/
Map of new developments in the pipeline: https://ny.curbed.com/maps/williamsburg-brooklyn-new-york-development
Sister-site developed as per right: 200 Kent Ave, sold for 33M: https://therealdeal.com/2017/12/05/livwrk-takes-stake-in-cornell-realtys-200-kent/
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