DeBlasio: I won’t rezone promised Bushwick Inlet Park land for apartments

When the smoke clears: The CitiStorage facility, part of which burned down this past winter, is the only thing between Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents and their contiguous 28-acre park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It may not be a park — but at least it won’t be condos.

Mayor DeBlasio will block developers from building apartments on a Williamsburg industrial waterfront property the city has long promised to turn into parkland, so long as residents and local pols continue to oppose the idea, Hizzoner pledged this week.

“The administration would never accept a rezoning here that did not have the support of the councilman and community,” said the mayor’s spokesman Wiley Norvell.

The city vowed 10 years ago to buy the 11-acre CitiStorage warehouses between N. 10th and N. 11th streets and use them to complete the would-be 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park — compensation for rezoning much of the neighborhood’s waterfront to make way for an influx of luxury housing.

But it dilly-dallied as the land’s value skyrocketed and now says it can’t afford the $300 million or more owner Norm Brodsky claims he can get for the property, leaving locals scared someone else would snap it up.

Media reports have speculated that the city might cut a deal with Brodsky that would give it part of the site for parkland in exchange for allowing lucrative residential buildings on the rest. Local Councilman Steve Levin (D–Willliamsburg) has already said he will oppose anything but green-space on the site — which would make rezoning difficult, but not impossible.

But DeBlasio finally put a fork in the idea following a Crain’s report on Tuesday that claimed developers Related Companies, Midtown Equities, and East End Capital are in talks for a deal that would allow them to eventually take ownership of the land — welcome news to park advocates.

“We’re very happy that the mayor and the city have joined with the community board and elected officials in sending a very loud, clear message that the land is to be a park,” said Steve Chesler, co-chair of activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

But the statement of solidarity is just a step in the right direction, said Chesler. Brodsky or a buyer could still build office or retail space on the site without the city’s okay — a far less lucrative venture, but still a possibility until the city actually makes good on its promise to buy the land.

“It’s definitely a concern that they could still do that,” he said. “It would still be horrendous.”

Midtown Equities refused to confirm whether any deal was in the works, stating that it is against policy to discuss development plans. Related Companies and East End Equities did not respond to requests for comment.

Brodsky could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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