Red Hook designer wants to build 15-story ‘Model Block’ as alternative to warehouses

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Alex Washburn wants to build a ‘Model Block’ on Wolcott Street in Red Hook.

A Red Hook city planning guru wants to erect a new 15-story mixed-use building at 145 Wolcott St., aiming to bring a “Model Block” of apartments, offices, light manufacturing, restaurants, and art spaces to the waterfront neighborhood increasingly overrun by last-mile warehouses.

“We asked our neighbors: what do we need in Red Hook? What do we love about Red Hook? And how can we get it all in a model block? The top priorities that emerged were clear: housing, jobs, resilience and the environment,” said developer Alexandros Washburn, who runs the urban design company DRAW Brooklyn and previously worked as the city’s chief urban designer during the Michael Bloomberg administration.

Washburn has partnered with Washington, D.C.-based builder Four Points to build the 407,328 square-foot complex between Conover and Ferris streets, including 160,000 square feet of residential space to replace the current auto body shop that lives on the lot.

The new 15-story complex seen from above.Arquitectonica

The 172-foot tall development will include 210 apartments, 61 of which will be earmarked as “affordable” tagged to residents’ incomes.

Two-thirds of the income-restricted units will be for people making 130 percent of the federally-designated Area Median Income, which equates to a salary of $133,120 for a family of three, while the remaining third will be reserved for those making 40 or 60 percent AMI, corresponding to an annual income of $40,960 or $61,440 for that size household.

Residents of Red Hook and local Community Board 6 will be given preference for half of the income-restricted units.

While the building will be three or four times taller than surrounding four-story residential buildings, the developer noted that the proposal is comparable to area public housing developments at Richards and King streets, which rise 14 stories.

A recent shot of the block at Wolcott and Conover streets.Google

The development will also include 65,675 square feet of light manufacturing space and 74,325 of commercial space for restaurants, shops, maker spaces, and creative office spaces, with a goal of creating more than 337 jobs, according to the builders.

The developers on Jan. 15 applied for a zoning variance with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to allow them to build the project atop the lot currently restricted to manufacturing.

Washburn pitched the proposal as a place for people to live, work, eat, and shop, offering an alternative to the boom in delivery warehouses that are starting to take over many manufacturing plots in the area.

The developers hope the project will provide an alternative to the delivery warehouses that are starting to dominate parts of Red Hook.Arquitectonica

Those heavily-automated facilities offer few jobs per square foot and bring in a wave of truck traffic rattling down the area’s cobblestone streets, and Washburn along with several locals recently launched an effort to get city street planners to re-route 18-wheelers away from the area’s main drag Van Brunt Street.

The developers will also clean up the lot underneath via the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, and aim to make it resilient to flooding, given that the low-lying neighborhood was battered by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

They will do that by raising apartments one floor above a ground-floor lobby, and by including a courtyard 28 feet above the flood line, according to the developers.

The builders plan to present their proposal to the local community board within the next 60 days and if they get approval from the BSA later this year, they plan to break ground in 2022 with completion slated for 2024.

This project will be discussed at a Feb. 25 virtual meeting of Community Board 6’s Landmarks/Land Use Committee. Click here to register for the meeting, which will begin at 6:30 pm.