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

The Brooklyn Paper
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A developer’s bid for a glitzy, 800-unit mixed-use apartment complex along the Williamsburg waterfront tripped at the first hurdle on Tuesday night when the local community board rejected it 31–8.

Members of Community Board 1 objected strongly to the project — dubbed “Rose Plaza on the River” — because it would reserve only 20 percent of its condo units as below-market-rate housing.

Board members also complained that 95 percent of the complex’s units are studios, and one- or two-bedrooms.

“Is this what you think our community needs?” said Rabbi David Niederman, a board member and president of the United Jewish Organization. At an earlier meeting last week, Niederman had called the project “another development that gentrifies a community that is suffering already from a lack of housing.”

The waterfront site is currently zoned for manufacturing and houses a lumber warehouse and a parking lot. The developers are seeking a residential rezoning so they can build a 3.7-acre complex with 801 units in three towers of 18, 24, and 29 stories. The site is bordered by Kent Avenue on the east, Division Avenue on the south and the Schaefer Landing complex to the north.

Rose Plaza is bigger, bulkier and will provide more housing than its neighbor to the north, which has towers of 15 and 26 stories for a total of 210 units.

Luxury condos have sprouted up in Williamsburg and Greenpoint since the contentious 2005 rezoning of the waterfront communities, a zoning change that allowed developers to build 30-story towers as long as they have big enough lots and provide public space. Since the rezoning took effect, condos towers like the 29-story Northside Piers near N. Fifth Street, the 30-story Edge between N. Fifth and N. Seventh streets, and Ismael Leyva’s proposed 40-story tower on West Street near India Street have become the norm.

The Rose Plaza site was not included in that rezoning, which brought the development team to the community board, which takes a first crack at city land-use changes.

Members of the CB1 land-use committee had sought improvements in the project last week, including setting aside 33 percent of the project for below-market-rate housing and creating some larger units for families.

“I didn’t think the committee vote was ‘no way,’ we just want to see the project to become better,” committee Chairman Ward Dennis said at that hearing. “The open space is a little more than required by law and we have always pushed for 40-percent affordable housing for new projects. All that you are offering is the standard, the minimum [of affordable units], you are looking for wavers on the height of the towers, and what do we get in return?”

In return, Howard Weiss, the attorney representing the would-be developers Abraham and Isack Rosenberg, said that Rose Plaza would include retail and restaurant space, an underground parking garage to fit 496 cars, an extension of S. 11th Street west of Kent Avenue to serve as a visual corridor, plus public space in the form of a waterfront esplanade.

“The public space and affordable housing shows that we care about the community,” said Weiss, adding that the construction of housing in what is currently a manufacturing site would “bring life and create jobs.”

To be able to do so, though, the developers need that the rezoning, which would cap the towers at 185 feet, unless the lot can be reconfigured. Rose Plaza would not be the first development to get such a waiver, but that didn’t matter to some panelists.

“You’re not special,” said Heather Roslund, a member of the committee. “I don’t buy it.”

Speaking of buying things, Dennis pointed out, Rose Plaza would add 800 units to the 2,500 new apartments that are expected to be on the market by the end of the year and another 2,500 by the end of 2010.

But Weiss was not deterred.

“By the time the project is built, the market will have changed — and we will be offering waterfront real estate,” said Weiss.

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Reader Feedback

Dav from Greenpoint says:
People fasten your seat belts the city like this plan and going ahead big time…its show time!
Dec. 2, 2009, 7:52 am
Yidel from Williamsburg says:
This vote is pure anger and hate
When in 2004 the entire board voted against 184 kent this hasidic group voted for it for a variance, and vito lopez did publicly denounce the vote, now its opposite.

PURE POLITICS !
Dec. 2, 2009, 3:34 pm
Yidel from Williamsburg says:
This vote is pure anger and hate
When in 2004 the entire board voted against 184 kent this hasidic group voted for it for a variance, and vito lopez did publicly denounce the vote, now its opposite.

PURE POLITICS !
Dec. 2, 2009, 3:34 pm
BPOE from Brooklyn says:
Maybe Cat Man can help.
Dec. 2, 2009, 4:25 pm
KMB from BK says:
Uhh...Wasn't this article written by Will Yakowicz on November 25...published by The Brooklyn Paper?
Dec. 2, 2009, 11:43 pm
bt from greenpoint says:
CB1 will sell its soul as long as you promise them enough affordable housing. North Greenpoint residents made it clear they dont want ANY towers on the waterfront, just low-level housing. CB1 approved a 40-storey tower there because it was affordable rental. CB1 betrays the long-term interests of the community time and time again, but pretends its all ok becuase of the "affordable housing" stamp.
Dec. 3, 2009, 8:50 am
Yentel from Williamsburg says:
Papa, can you hear me?
Dec. 3, 2009, 10:23 am
Yenta from Williamsburg says:
Mr Kuntzman
why did you delete all these comments complaining the david neiderman manipulates the votes on CB#1?
Dec. 3, 2009, 2:20 pm
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
According to the posting conditions below, people can not post "abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful [and] threatening" messages. Also, commenters are not allowed to make repeated posts from the same IP address under different user names, as this also violates our policy.

The comment space is open to all, under certain conditions. We want to encourage an unfettered debate, but posters must follow the agreement below.

GERSH KUNTZMAN
Editor
The Brooklyn Paper
Dec. 3, 2009, 3:06 pm
Sara from Williamsburg says:
David Neiderman as a leader in williamsburg has had his fair share of strengths and weaknesses. But now he is being widely criticised for his personal vendetta against Issac Rosenbergs development.
Dec. 3, 2009, 3:31 pm
Tony from Williamsburg says:
Rabbi Neidermans decision to contest against the Rose Plaza development is nothing but a personal vendetta against the developer. Rabbi neiderman should resign or be removed from the board for doing this
Dec. 3, 2009, 4:56 pm
Blitzen from Williamsburg says:
What I find interesting, besides the fact that the above posters all seem to be the same person, is that Diana Reyna and her crack team of Broadway Triangle opponents all spoke in favor of this development at this meeting and this paper didn't think that was significant enough to report on. Aaaron Short's blog has the wonderful quote of her near unintelligible rantings regarding this development, why not include it in a follow up article about Diana Reyna's continued confusion concerning developments outside her district?
Dec. 4, 2009, 7:07 am
Sue from Williamsburg says:
This reporter should use his own words not copying someone's else's from a previous edition who reported on the first meeting. Maybe check out your facts and revise the article with updated information.
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:16 am

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