Levin still has thorns from Rose Plaza, seeks more ‘affordable’ units

This ‘Rose’ has thorns! CB1 panel blocks developer’s waterfront towers

A controversial developer has added more affordable units to his proposed complex on the Williamsburg waterfront, but not enough to satisfy Councilman Steve Levin.

In an attempt to win more support from Councilmembers who will vote on the project later this month, Rose Plaza developer Isack Rosenberg agreed to reduce the project’s size from 801 units to 776, while increasing the percentage of affordable units from 20 percent to 28 percent and doubling the number of family-friendly three-bedroom apartments to 60.

Yet at a hearing of the Council’s Land-Use Committee on Wednesday, Levin (D-Williamsburg) hammered Rosenberg’s representatives over the proposal’s omission of four-bedroom units and chastised them for not getting the affordable housing level above 30 percent.

“The community board and the borough president specifically asked for this,” said Levin. “You determined … that this was something that was not going to be explored.”

Rosenberg’s attorney Howard Weiss defended the project, saying that the levels of affordable housing were consistent with other privately developed sites on the waterfront — and that doing more would cut so deeply into the developer’s profits that the project would not be doable.

“What we’re proposing makes sense,” Weiss said. “The developer will take less of a profit to make [the 28-percent afforable housing set-aside] happen.”

The Council’s debate over Rose Plaza is one of the last steps in a process to rezone 3.7 acres of waterfront property near Kent and Division avenues. The project carries momentum after being approved by the City Planning Commission in March, despite being rejected by Borough President Markowitz and Community Board 1.

The future of the project remains up in the air, as Levin has been lobbying colleagues to vote it down and councilmembers typically vote with the local representative on land-use issues. The Land Use Committee’s vote will likely occur before April 14.