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No ‘Rose’ thorn here — Planning Commission gives OK to W’burg towers

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The City Planning Commission voted on Monday to approve the controversial Rose Plaza on the River, a mixed-use, 800-unit apartment complex along the Williamsburg waterfront — a decision that bucks Borough President Markowitz’s rejection in January.

The 7-5 vote was a rare close one, and reflects that the most-contentious issue — the amount of below-market-rate housing — must be solved before the project gets its expected approval from the City Council later this spring.

“The commission approved because [the project is] consistent with zoning requirements of density, height and 20-percent affordable housing,” said Howard Weiss, the attorney representing the would-be developers Abraham and Isack Rosenberg, whose riverfront property currently houses a lumber yard. “Even the opposition has no issues with the project itself.”

He may have a point — Community Board 1 and Markowitz rejected the project in January, saying that they want 100 more below-market-rate units than the 160 proposed, as well as more three- and four-bedroom units in the complex.

And today, the councilman for the district, Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg), reiterated his strong opposition to the project.

“In an area that has suffered many of the ills associated with gentrification, this development will only exacerbate, and not mitigate, the many pressures local families face,” Levin said. “The applicant’s dedication of only 20 percent of its units to affordable housing is entirely insufficie­nt.”

Currently, the waterfront site — south of the Schaefer Landing complex and just outside the area that was rezoned for large towers, and 20 percent affordable housing, in 2005 — is zoned for manufacturing. If the site is rezoned, Rosenberg hopes to build a complex with three towers of 18, 24 and 29 stories.

Opponents also want put the brakes on the rezoning because Rosenberg’s towers are too high. But the developer has said that those towers would have to grow taller still to underwrite the cost of more affordable units.

That said, Weiss said Rosenberg and his team will continue studying how they can add more below-market-rate housing in the project before the City Council vote. Either way, he’s not worried.

“Rosenberg has done everything over the past six years to facilitate public amenities, open space and good design,” Weiss said. “City Planning approved the best project that the city has seen in years, and I expect the Council will do the same.”

Posted 12:40 pm, March 9, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Meir Roth from Williamsburg says:
Thank god that reason has won. Thank god that this issue is finnaly over and done with. This entire development was used by political huncos to extort and blackmail a private developer only because he aint towing the line of the old establishment.
March 9, 2010, 6:06 pm
John from South Williamsburg says:
where is the exact location of this potential new development?
March 10, 2010, 9:02 am
Tom from Williamsburg says:
STOP THE ROSE OVER DEVELOPMENT! Let's not ruin more neighborhoods so that a few can make some more buck. The land is zoned manufacturing not more residential towers.
March 10, 2010, 10:11 am
BIGELOW from On the bike says:
The location is the current certifeid lumber business,
March 10, 2010, 12:42 pm
Joey from Williamsburg says:
Six years to approve a development? No wonder housing in the city is screwed up. If people were able to get things passed through the commission in a year or so, without all this so-called "affordable housing" that keeps developers building condos and not rentals then we'd have a building boom, higher vacancy and lower rates for ALL.

NYC housing is horrible because we have the most antiquated anti-business anti-logic system in the country.
March 18, 2010, 5:27 pm

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