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Marty’s ‘Rose’ thorn: Put affordable housing promise in writing

The Brooklyn Paper

Borough President Markowitz has rejected a developer’s bid for an 800-unit apartment complex on the South Williamsburg waterfront — unless the builders set aside 100 more below-market-rate units than they originally promised.

In a written statement that is part of the public review process for the Rose Plaza on the River project, Markowitz said that developer Isack Rosenberg’s promise of 160 “affordable” units, or 20 percent of the apartments, wasn’t enough. Markowitz said he would support the developer in his bid to rezone his waterfront lot, currently a lumberyard, if he raised the figure to 264 units, or roughly 33 percent of the project.

In a meeting on Dec. 7, Rosenberg told Markowitz that he would come through with the extra units, but the Beep wants it in writing.

“It is the borough president’s policy to obtain a written commitment or explanation” before offering approval, Markowitz wrote in the recommendation, which was released late last Wednesday.

In another demand, Markowitz wants developers to include a substantially higher number of three- and four-bedroom units in the complex, which was originally slated to have studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments comprise 95 percent of the units. Markowitz said he could approve the rezoning if Rosenberg set aside 70 percent of the low-income units as three- and four-bedrooms.

The recommendation is consistent with Community Board 1’s strong objection to the project in early December, when members objected both to the limited affordable housing and the scarcity of family-sized apartments.

“It’s another development that gentrifies a community that is suffering already from a lack of housing,” said principal opponent Rabbi David Niederman, who is president of the United Jewish Organization and a rival of Rosenberg’s in the Hasidic community.

Currently, the waterfront site — just south of the Schaefer Landing complex — is zoned for manufacturing. If the site is rezoned, Rosenberg hopes to build a 3.7-acre complex with 801 units in three towers of 18, 24 and 29 stories.

Rosenberg is also seeking to build the tallest towers a bit higher, but Markowitz put the brakes on that bid, too, disapproving of a special permit that would allow taller (and more lucrative) towers. But again, Markowitz’s denial was conditional, saying that he could accept taller buildings if moderate- and middle-income units got the nice views, too.

The proposal now heads for the Department of City Planning and the City Council. Both of which are likely to approve it, if the developer makes the requested changes. The project is in the council district of newcomer Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg). It is unclear what the freshman lawmaker’s position is.

Rosenberg did not return calls for comment.

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Howard Weiss for Rose Plaza on the River LLC from Williamsburg says:
The Borough President recommended approval of the rezoning, which would allow 801 apartments and retail development at the site, including 160 affordable apartments. He recommended denial of the accompanying special permit, which allows an increase in building heights, unless the developer agreed to an increase in affordable housing and the number of 3- and 4-bedroom units. The developer responded to the Borough President in writing that it would study the feasibility of increasing the percentage of affordable housing and the number of larger apartments.
Jan. 13, 2010, 12:57 am
renita reid from williamsburg south side says:
I really dont have a comment in regards to the affordable housing, but I do have a question I am a New York City employee and I would like to know where can I go to apply for this affordable housing. My e-mail address i rhot 1025@aol.com thank you it will make me feel very happy to get a response.
Jan. 13, 2010, 12:50 pm
linda williams from williamsburg says:
I like the principle of this article, but the demand for a written promise goes against city building code 493.31.24
If you want get it, I think that there are other, legal, channels to pursue. And the developer, Harden Building Works, has always lived up to it's promises before (just look and Lohman-Roberts Apartment complex in Queens if you need proof).
Jan. 14, 2010, 3:46 am
Anthony Raiola from Staten Island says:
I too would like to know where can I go to apply for this affordable housing.
My email address is ajr10304@yahoo.com
Thank you so much for your consideration.
Mr. Anthony J Raiola
May 28, 2010, 9:07 am
Anthony Raiola from Staten Island says:
Affordable Housing is so hard to come by and I have been trying for over 2 years but to know avail and I think this is wonderful !
May 28, 2010, 9:08 am

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