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Let DUMBO thrive

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The community board that represents DUMBO voted this week against a city plan to encourage residential development in an area east of the Manhattan Bridge that is currently zoned for manufacturing.

This was utter foolishness by Community Board 2, which has increasingly exhibited an antipathy to residential development in DUMBO.

The city proposal would allow the conversion of warehouses and former factory buildings into much-needed apartments in this still-growing city.

The main sticking point for some residents is the rezoning plan’s 12-story height limit on new residential construction.

Their objection, if you can believe it, is that 12 stories is too high.

Too high?

In a neighborhood that has some new buildings and many old warehouses (now beautiful residential and office buildings) that are 11, 13 and 16 stories? In a neighborhood that also has a 31-story and a 24-story building next to the proposed rezoning area?

Clearly, the objection to the city’s proposed 12-story height limit is a straw man. Indeed, supporters of another controversial DUMBO project — Jed Walentas’s Dock Street building — have been bullied with a false allegation that the project would forever ruin views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Are there reasonable issues to raise in both cases? Of course.

But a reasoned debate is impossible when one side only wants to punish developers for the “crime” of wanting to profit from the city’s insatiable need for housing in desirable neighborhoods near Manhattan.

It’s important to note that the DUMBO Historic District protects virtually all of the rezoned area as a city landmark — so any new construction will have to conform to the neighborhood’s unique character.

It is true that some of DUMBO’s earliest residents — artists who fled Manhattan and turned the neighborhood from a forgotten warehouse district into one of the most desirable places to live and work — could be displaced if real-estate prices soar. But is this not the story of New York?

For DUMBO, or any neighborhood, to thrive, it needs to be allowed to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. People want to live in DUMBO, developers want to build them homes, and the city wants to cap the height of the buildings — and maintain DUMBO’s historic flavor.

It sounds good to us.

Updated 4:21 pm, April 21, 2009: Story was updated to reflect our own idiocy at misremembering that DUMBO is already a historic district, as our story reported: http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/50/30_50dumbohistoric.html
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Reader Feedback

freddy from slope says:
hmm... supporters of a project (dock street) whose proponent spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying after a rejection several years ago are being bullied.

why dont you warn us with a cartoon with every editorial so we can be forewarned that humor is forthcoming.

double hmm..

in this environment we still need more housing. where can i buy what you are smoking ?
April 9, 2009, 11:13 pm
Publius from Bklyn Hgts says:
Does Jed write your editorials?
April 10, 2009, 11:50 am
Rachel Pater from DUMBO says:
Sorry, but the residential rezoning does not sound good to me. Where exactly are all of the children who may become a part of this growing neighborhood go to school?? Brooklyn Heights schools --both private and public -- are so crowded and the waitlists are insane! Before anyone decides to build additional residential buildings, maybe some thougth to additonal schools should be a factor!
April 10, 2009, 2:10 pm
shorty from over there says:
Although there are a few buildings taller than the proposed 12-story height limit, most of the buildings in the rezoning area are shorter, far shorter in many cases, than what the City proposes. And you are comparing apples and oranges when you point to the heights of the J Condo and the Beacon. For one, many DUMBO residents realize they dropped the ball when the J Condo site was rezoned. And secondly, those buildings aren't in the historic district. That's right--the DUMBO Historic District isn't proposed; it exists. Should we trust the editorials of people who cannot even get basic facts right?
April 10, 2009, 2:45 pm
sue from boeum hill says:
I usually agree with the Brooklyn Papers, but on this, I do not. Why don't we value low-height development? Most of us new comers over the past two decades came to Brookyn to flee skyscrappers with their austere, alienating qualities. Why are we trying to immitate Manhattan? The historic character of DUMBO will be irritrivably lost if highrises are allowed to bump up there. Let's get real. To preserve the value of our neighborhoods, we need to respect what made (and makes) them great: low heights, great buildings, mom and pop shops, real neighborhoods. Highrises defy this. Let them build highrises elsewhere. I am certain East New York would love Walentas' help building some of his beauties there. And building those neighborhoods, too. Leave DUMBO be.
April 10, 2009, 9:03 pm
TruthTeller from Brooklyn says:
The Brooklyn Paper, bought and paid for by developers. And now owned by Rupert.

Editorial "board" (more than one person?): next time you claim others display "utter foolishness" in their desire to preserve Brooklyn, take a quick run over to the mirror.
April 10, 2009, 10:51 pm
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
Notice how in all these development news. You don't hear much about a school, library or parks? Are the politican not aware of the overcrowding in school? How come they are not giving out tax $ to build schools & library to some developers?

Oh foolish me, developer can't make $$ from schools, can they??
April 10, 2009, 11:05 pm
buddy 11210 from Heights says:
You got that right, Judah. And they are selling out our parks to developers, too. Gersh has been right on the Brooklyn Bridge "park" debacle. I just don't know why he is so keen on this Dock Street building - and it turns out the School Construction Authority isn't even going to build a school in the Dock Street building. It was all a ruse to give a favored developer a favor. Mayor Mike has gotta go. And hopefully the Brooklyn Papers will write that editorial!
April 12, 2009, 10:44 pm
David from One Main Street says:
"[I]t turns out the School Construction Authority isn't even going to build a school in the Dock Street building." The source for that statement is?
April 13, 2009, 1:19 pm
David from One Main Street says:
Yo! Buddy! I asked you a question.
April 14, 2009, 7:47 pm

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