Bushwickans: Rezoning for development is fool’s Rhein-gold

Bushwickans: Rezoning for development is fool’s Rhein-gold
Big in Bushwick: The housing development on the former Rheingold Brewery site plan calls for 10 apartment buildings.
Herrick Feinstein LLP

A proposed cluster of high-rise apartment buildings in an industrial part of Bushwick that opponents say will overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic and further spike rents got the green light from a city panel on Wednesday.

The city planning commission unanimously approved the rezoning of part of the old Rheingold Brewery site, which is already home to an adjacent mixed-income development, so that a developer can turn five blocks near Flushing Avenue into 10 eight-story buildings, a prospect that some residents say will accelerate gentrification in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

“It’s going to create an influx of new residents who will bring further congestion and change the demographics and quality of this neighborhood,” said Matt Mottel, a longtime Bushwick business owner and member of the newly-formed opposition bloc the North West Bushwick Community Group.

The approval for rezoning the area bounded by Melrose Street and Flushing, Bushwick, and Evergreen avenues from manufacturing to residential follows an okay from the local community board that convened a special session in late June solely about the development. Critics called that event a secret meeting but board members said was adequately advertised. The area currently contains parking lots, vacant plots, and one warehouse. Bushwickans opposed to the project say that it is sailing through the approval process and must be stopped.

The Rheingold developer wants to build 977 residential units and counters detractors by pointing out that 242 apartments will be so-called affordable ones for lower-income families who can win leases through a lottery. Before the rezoning becomes official, it must get the blessing of the city council and the mayor.

But some Bushwickans say it is not enough and that the rate of rent increases in the neighborhood that has seen two-bedroom costs jump $248 in the last year, according to a rental market report, is too much to take.

“As a community member and a parent, it’s appalling and scary and threatening to see the changes that are coming to Bushwick,” said Yazmin Colon, a Bushwick native who runs a youth group called Educated Little Monsters. “It’s moving so rapidly — how do we continue to be a part of it? What future does my son have here?”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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