Council delays ‘bridge blocker’vote

The Brooklyn Paper
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A City Council vote on a plan to build a high-rise apartment building on Water Street in DUMBO that could potentially block views of and from the Brooklyn Bridge was held over this week while the developers — the father-and-son team of David and Jed Walentas — amend their proposal, council sources said.

“There are still discussions going on between all parties, and we are laying the vote over as long as possible to give as much time as possible to discussions,” said Councilman Tony Avella, who chairs the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee. “I can’t remember in the two-and-a-half years I’ve been chair that we’ve delayed a vote to this extent.”

While he said the Walentases submitted a second amended version of their plan the vote has been held off so all the members can first become familiar with the latest changes.

“Based on [the changes] I’ve seen,” which Avella said were not much different, “I’m still opposed to the project.”

Councilman David Yassky, in whose district the project site lies, said through a spokesman that the latest revisions were still unacceptable.

“I think to us they’re very much superficial changes,” said Yassky spokesman Evan Thies. “From what I understand the change would be moving the building a little bit further back from the bridge and taking that additional bulk and adding it to the height of the building. That is not acceptable to the community, and it’s not acceptable to us.”

Thies said Yassky has been lobbying members of the Land Use committee to vote against the project if it makes it out of the subcommittee.

But some community groups are afraid the delay in voting is indicative of something more.

“The fact that something this important involving the Brooklyn Bridge is being conducted in the corridors,” Stanton said, “they’re just big wizards over there in the speaker’s office, controlling everything.”

Several calls to Two Trees Management, the development company of the Walentases, were not returned.

Stanton said the delay in voting on the plan is less about the new designs, and more about power wielding.

“Nobody’s taking that seriously, really. I don’t know anybody who’s taking that seriously,” she said of the designs.

Avella echoed her sentiment.

“It was unclear to me what it meant, but basically they were taking a corner off the building,” Avella said of the latest modifications. “The corner closest to the bridge, or further from the bridge,” he said, adding that it was hard to understand because “they didn’t have time to do complete architectural drawings.”

The plan, which promises to build an estimated 200 apartments and comes with a commitment by Jed Walentas that should Two Trees’ application for an 80-20 tax abatement be accepted, they’d provide 20 percent of the units for low-income residents. Below that would sit 8,000 square feet of retail space.

The building would stand 178-feet tall, according to the last plans submitted by the group.

The amended plan moved the tallest point of the building 134 feet away from the bridge roadway, instead of the originally planned 70 feet.

Yassky, who was at first suspected to be a supporter of the plan, because he took a few months to state his opinion on the proposal, said he recognized the need for such housing, but not at that detriment to Brooklyn’s history.

“There needs to be housing in the community and it’s the kind of thing that needs to be built, but in a way where we can preserve the character of the community and prosperity of the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Thies.

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