Is this tower too big for Greenpoint? • Brooklyn Paper

Is this tower too big for Greenpoint?

A developer wants to build this Cesar Pelli-designed 40-story tower on the Greenpoint waterfront at India Street, but neighbors say it’s too big.
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

A first-time developer is planning to build what would be the tallest luxury condo tower on Greenpoint’s waterfront — but he’s going to need a “radical” change in zoning to get it done.

Jonathan Bernstein’s proposed Cesar Pelli-designed 47-story tower, with a 20-story sister building, cannot be built on his India Street lot under current zoning without demapping a portion of India Street and some of Java Street as well.

Without the demapping, Bernstein would be allowed to build a 40-story building and a 30-story secondary tower — but both would be much less dense and, therefore, less lucrative.

“The building will never get built unless it is big,” Bernstein said, anticipating community opposition to his $623-million project. “Lenders will only lend money if you can build an original and financially viable plan.”

That may have been true a few years ago, but the recession has dried up a lot of financing. And there is a glut of luxury units at still-unfinished projects nearby, such as the Edge, Northside Piers and the still-unstarted 155 West St.

Bernstein had an answer for that, too. “In Brooklyn, housing is an absolute crying need, so we are proceeding as if the economy will improve tomorrow,” he said.

Bernstein said his project would include thousands of square feet of parkland, an amphitheater, a beach, sand dunes, wetlands, two piers for three historical schooners (for educational purposes), and ferry service.

Ward Dennis, the chairman of Community Board 1’s land-use committee, called Bernstein’s plan “a beautifully designed project,” but said he was concerned about how radically the zoning would be altered to accommodate it.

Current zoning allows a total density of 660,000 square feet. Bernstein’s project surpasses that by almost 35 percent.

“The big thing is the question of density,” Dennis told The Brooklyn Paper. “How many people can the G train handle? How many people can the schools handle?”

Bernstein admitted that he would be asking for “radical changes to the zoning,” but said his project was so unique that it would become a gateway to Manhattan and Greenpoint.”

“Every city planner comes across a spot that is overlooked, but is perfect and Greenpoint is inevitable for my plan,” he added.

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