DUMBO residents and merchants are divided over a proposed city rezoning for a swath of the less-swank portion of the neighborhood east of the Manhattan Bridge that will allow old manufacturing buildings to be converted into residential lofts and let developers build new apartment buildings has high as 12 stories.
Supporters say the city plan would bring more life into what is still a relatively isolated community more than 20 years after artists quietly started occupying derelict warehouses down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.
“It’s such a positive for DUMBO because it will add for the potential for more families and businesses to come to the neighborhood. That will add more foot traffic and that’s good for our local businesses,” said Kate Kerrigan, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, a business group.
Kerrigan pointed out that several small merchants, such as the children’s store Modern Tots and furniture shop Journeys, have closed or will close inside the area targeted for development by the city.
But critics say that the Department of City Planning proposal would allow developers to further erase the gritty charm of what has become one of the most posh neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
“It’s going to be catastrophic in DUMBO,” said Sheryl Bucholtz, president of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association. “Do we turn into another Williamsburg? Quality of life is not just bringing in thousands of people.
“Development is important and growth is good, but it needs to be appropriate,” she added.
Yet the amended zoning — affecting about a dozen blocks (see map) — would prohibit new buildings from reaching the heights of the 33-story, glass-wrapped J Condo at the corner of Front and Jay streets.
The city’s proposal also includes incentives for builders to include below-market rate housing, a commodity in short supply in all-luxury DUMBO. It also allows for light industry to exist side-by-side housing, one of the conditions that currently makes DUMBO unique.
The rezoning comes just a year after the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission created a DUMBO Historic District that covers 91 buildings, many of them built between 1880 and 1920, in much of the area that is slated to be rezoned.
Before it can be enacted, the rezoning will snake through the rigorous land-use review process.
Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee will discuss the proposed rezoning at its March 18 meeting. The location has yet to be determined. Call (718) 596-5410 for info.
©2009 Community News Group
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