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40 stories and a rule

The same development company that built the Oro condo in Downtown Brooklyn now plans a 40-story tower in Greenpoint.
Ismael Leyva

A 40-story tower will rise on the horizon for the Greenpoint waterfront — if the city allows the developers to build 10 stories higher than the current zoning permits.

The 422-unit rental tower is part of a 620-unit development planned for a waterfront site at 155 West St., between Huron and India Streets, at the very northern part of Greenpoint.

But in order to erect the a building that tall, developer Dean Palin — the man behind the Gold Street condo tower Oro — needs permission to exceed the 30-story cap that was instituted as part of a controversial 2005 upzoning of the neighborhood.

That upzoning has caused a wave of development along the waterfront, including the Edge condos at North Sixth Street and Northside Piers at North Fifth Street. Neither exceed the 30-story cap.

Alongside the tower, the developer plans to construct a $2-million public waterfront esplanade as well as three six-story buildings containing 218-units — 140 of them affordable for families that earn maximum incomes ranging from $32,280 to $41,460. Affordable housing was mandated as part of the city upzoning.

The developer claims that he needs to make his high-rise 10 stories taller than zoning allows because he cannot build within 50 feet of a sewage pipe that runs through the lot, and he cannot touch a 25-foot section of wetlands at the corner of the property, said Ken Fisher, a former councilman who is representing the builder.

Oddly shaped parcel aside, opponents of the project said that the builder should follow the same height rules that govern the rest of the waterfront.

“The developers at 155 West St. knew the lot was irregularly shaped when they bought it — and they still chose to buy it,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg), who rallied against two proposed 40-story towers in South Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar development this spring.

“I would think that a building that was hoping for such a big concession from the community would include more affordable housing. But even if they had offered that, a 40-story building would be completely out of context with the community, would cut off sunlight and further strain vital services in the area,” Lentol added. “I think they can expect a great deal opposition to this idea.”

Supporters say there won’t be any opposition at all, actually.

“The benefit of the project is that we’re finally going to get some additional open space on the Greenpoint waterfront, and a bigger benefit is that we’re going to get 140 units of affordable housing at rents that fit the population,” said Richard Mazur, executive director of the North Brooklyn Development Corporation.

The project won’t begin until the developers secure financing — which Fisher is “cautiously optimistic” will happen by the second quarter of 2009.

Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee will discuss the tower on Nov. 25 at the board office (435 Graham Ave. near the corner of Frost Street) at 6:30 pm. Call (718) 389-0009 for info.follow the same height rules that govern the rest of the waterfront.

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