Under pressure, Walentas scales
38 Water St., near Brooklyn Bridges
Following community outcry over a proposed 16-story building adjacent
to the Brooklyn Bridge, developer David Walentas unveiled plans this week
to scale back part of his residential and commercial project.
The new plans, presented to the Department of City Planning Monday afternoon,
include shaving the building height down to eight stories along a stretch
of the property closest to the bridge.
But opponents of the project say the changes don’t go far enough.
“The bulk and density is still too great for that location,”
said Gerry Vasisko, an architect and planner who heads the land use committee
of the Brooklyn Heights Association and attended Monday’s meeting.
Earlier this year, both Community Board 2 and Borough President Marty
Markowitz voted down the proposed project, which is currently winding
its way through the city Uniform Land Use Review Process in seeking a
zoning change for the site, currently reserved for manufacturing.
Critics called the project “ill-conceived” and out of scale
with existing low-rise buildings. They are concerned it would cast shadows
on the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park commercial and recreational development.
The largest objection is that the new building — which would rise
at the 38 Water St. site that is now home to the single-story St. Ann’s
Warehouse performance space — might obstruct views of the iconic
Brooklyn Bridge, just 70 feet away.
In order to address those issues, Walentas, a principal of Two Trees Management,
which is largely responsible for converting DUMBO from a decaying industrial
neighborhood to a thriving residential and commercial hotspot, went back
to the drawing board.
In the new version, the tallest part of the building would be set back
132 feet, while the rest of the building would stand flush with the bridge
The proposed building also calls for 8,000 square feet of retail space
along Water Street, an 8,000-square-foot performance space that would
be rented to a non-profit arts group, and a 327-space public parking garage
with an entrance and exit along Front Street.
To maintain roughly the same number of apartment units, Walentas would
add a penthouse tower, reduce ceiling heights and the overall size of
each apartment, and cut the community space down to 3,000 square feet.
Those changes would allow him to reduce the overall residential area to
190,000 square feet from the proposed 200,000 square feet.
City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden praised the changes.
“The developers have come a long way in cutting a big chunk of the
building off,” said Burden who called the changes a good compromise.
Other planning commissioners said the building should be pushed back even
further and stressed the importance of maintaining open views.
In its recommendations, CB2 passed a resolution in May asking that future
proposals for the site be lower than the Brooklyn Bridge roadway and be
consistent with the adjacent buildings.
“We’re trying to find a solution where we can get an economic
building approved that’s responsive to the community’s concerns,”
said Jed Walentas, a principal of Two Trees Management and son of David.
The City Planning Commission is scheduled to cast its vote at a public
meeting at the City Planning offices at 22 Reade St. at 1 pm on Aug. 25.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group