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The Rookie! Levin, fresh off big win, now fights Bloomy on Domino

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Less than two weeks after winning a big political and policy victory on the Williamsburg waterfront, rookie Councilman Steve Levin is now after a bigger fight against a stronger opponent — he wants changes in a $1.2-billion Domino Sugar redevelopment that is backed by a wily veteran named Mike Bloomberg.

Levin has called the 2,200-unit proposal “simply too massive” for the site of the former sugar refinery along Kent Avenue.

“We’re looking at 6,100 to 6,700 new people in the neighborhood as the result of this development,” said Levin. “I don’t believe that the neighborhood has the infrastructure, public transportation, and capacity for that level of vehicular traffic to sustain that type of influx of people.”

Levin wants to reduce the density of the project, add get the number of below-market-rate units above the promised 30 percent, reduce the number of underground parking spaces by nearly half, and create more open space on the 11.2-acre site.

Mayor Bloomberg is a strong supporter of the Domino project. But Levin is fresh off last week’s settlement with the developer of Rose Plaza, a nearby development that was bigger, had fewer affordable units and included none of the coveted family-sized units before Levin got involved in the negotiations.

Levin’s work punctuated his first four months on the Council — and he’s not done there.

Levin has the backing of his mentor, Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg), who is opposed to the current project — and who has been lobbying councilmembers behind the scenes for 1,000 affordable units instead of the 660 proposed by Domino’s developer Community Preservation Corporation Resources.

Levin is happy that Lopez has his back.

“Vito has taken a real leadership role with regard to this development in particular in a very long time,” Levin said. “Going back to when I was working for him early on, he was advocating for these issues. I want to emphasize as much as possible that he is very much a driving force in making sure that there be responsible development here.”

Not all the dominoes are lining up the way Levin and Lopez want.

Borough President Markowitz has backed the plan. And last weekend, Bloomberg jumped into the fray, calling out Levin and Lopez for standing in the way of development along the Williamsburg waterfront. But Levin’s vote is key, as councilmembers typically defer to the wishes of the member in whose district a project resides.

But Levin isn’t backing down, challenging the mayor to accommodate the tens of thousands of new residents and congestion on the roads and two subway lines near the project.

“If the mayor wants to see this happen, the community is going to need transportation modificati­on,” Levin said. “You can’t fit on the Bedford L train now as it is.”

Updated 1:08 pm, April 21, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

David from Greenpoint says:
Keep up levin, continue this path, so in about 3 years we will ged rid of you big time!!,,
April 21, 2010, 1:28 pm
Ken from Williamsburg says:
Everybody knows that Levin lost the fight in Rose Plaza. He did not get what he wanted in terms of affordable housing units. He was told by Quinn's office to give up.
April 21, 2010, 1:30 pm
Dav from Clinton Hill says:
Guys its time to stop pointing fingers, this freshmen Levine guy is just doing his job as a councilman and following like a puppet his buss Vito Lopez foot steps,
This is the only way to get attention and being recognize by the people that is office is still alive,
The people in his district don’t like him that much; as a young and unprofessional person he needs to do some home-work and understand
What the real problem is, many meeting he is just listing but no solutions! Having another chance is to live and learn
Meet people try to salve them by your self not ignore them etc.
At this time according district pool (dp) readings is only 34%.thtas not the best, at the same time former councilman Yassky was 68%.
He needs do try doing a better job otherwise its history!
April 21, 2010, 4:47 pm
joe from Williamsburg says:
Is this a comedy article, or is this damage control from the Lopez camp after there enormous flop by the rose plaza project, everybody knows that the rose plaza fight was not about Affordable housing, cause if it was why did Levine run around lobbying against the project on Wednesday after the 30% offer, and only when he realized that all the council members are against him and they are all planning to vote yes, despite his begging that they shouldn't, only then did he decide for damage control purposes to vote for it and claim a victory, well good luck Levine & Lopez selling this crape to the kids in Rodney St. there're desperate so they will probably buy it, but must of us are a little more informed & intelligent to buy this
April 21, 2010, 4:48 pm
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
LEVIN is diverting the attention from his loss at the Rose development . Levin"s task now is of making further rapid political advances, so he is flexing his political muscles.
April 21, 2010, 5:28 pm
The candidate from Williamsburg says:
This message is to the Chairman of City Planning Commission Amenda Burdon, Council Speaker Christy Quinn, All City Council members and especially Council member Steve Levin.

The precedent that Mr. Levin and Niederman's and approach to address the rezoning issue in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg that every property city owned or private that will come before you for rezoning, must give 30% affordable, parking, open space and a full environmental impact study as well as transportation.

Urgent message to all investor's buying property in Williamsburg and will proceed to request for rezoning and or variance, we will request that all those demands that were made by Niederman and Levin at Roze Plaza also be made in the future to all vacant land or for rezoned property.

A letter will go out to all City Council members this week, so thank you Niederman for helping the future of Williamsburg and killing all developers and investors.

So before anyone wants to invest in rezone and build, think of how much space you will have to give up because of the demands made by Levin and Niederman
April 21, 2010, 7:57 pm
Goyo from Los Sures says:
Build more schools first!
April 21, 2010, 8:22 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
It's amazing to read some of the comments above. The changes that Levin seeks are changes that have wide support from the Community Board and other community stake holders.

All you have to do is ride on the L train at any time to see his point about how housing development and density effect transportation and other resources.

The number of residential units proposed for the Domino site is about the same as the number of residential units planned for the Atlantic Yards site, just to put it in perspective.
However, instead of the Atlantic Pacific rail hub, which has the LIRR and about a dozen subway lines, the Williamsburg waterfront has two subway lines.

Without reducing the density of the project, or providing for increased community resources like schools and transportation, the proposed plan will make a mess out of the neighborhood. It will make Williamsburg unbearable not only during rush hour, but it will make it an unattractive place for people to live and raise families, and this is the greatest threat to lives and investments in the area.

Here's to Councilman Levin, someone who isn't afraid to tackle the tough issues, and expects better for Brooklyn, even when others don't.
April 21, 2010, 8:46 pm
The Candidate from Williamsburg says:
To Bob

you didn't have the guts to stop the Yuppies, Hipsters or Artists from migrating here in such a mass, I support them all the way at the community board when they moved into commercial space and turned it into residential, I could have said the same thing "the L train can no longer take them" so you take it out on others.

you have some coconuts.
April 21, 2010, 9:49 pm
Boris from Bay Ridge says:
Bob, you are exactly right. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Williamsburg can't support another 6,000 cars, and that's how many new cars will be on the road if all the proposed parking spaces are built and transit capacity doesn't go up.

Bloomberg and City Planning are asking for gridlock, pedestrian fatalities, and reduced livability of the neighborhood. Come on, even Marty Markowitz asked for fewer parking spaces at Domino! How much is the road/parking construction industry paying Bloomberg and Co. to keep doing this? It's disgusting.

I'm really glad Levin is standing up to Bloomberg, Amanda Burden from City Planning, and the big developers. We need more neighborhood advocates like him.
April 22, 2010, 9:34 am
Keith from Brooklyn Hights says:
This freshman Levin guy needs to do some real home-work, start doing some action for the district before its too late,
we have been watching him for some time business hours should be 9-5pm. not 11:30-4pm. Don’t mess with tax payers money!!!
April 22, 2010, 10:25 am
Shimele Wieser from Williamsburg says:
Keith your on the ball with Levins time in his office..I could never contact him before 11,11,30 and forget about contacting him after 4, 4,30
April 22, 2010, 11:44 am
Sid from boerum hill says:
Steve like most politicians is at breakfast and afternoon meetings. If you are not getting through to him, its because he doesn't want to take your calls or is at meetings.

There is almost always a meeting somewhere at night where he is at.

He also has an office in Manhattan as does every council member.
April 22, 2010, 9:42 pm
Ed from Greenpoint says:
Return phone calls is still very important to be in touch with the people that vote support him….. Playing politics is to early for this freshman Levin..

April 23, 2010, 9:38 am
Sid from boerum hill says:
You expect the council member himself to call you back? Playing politics it too early for any politician? boy are you naive...
April 23, 2010, 1:58 pm
Keith from Brooklyn Hights says:
We not expect noting just somebody from his office should take some extra minutes and call back…it never happen!!!
April 25, 2010, 4 pm
abe from williamsburg says:
i am sure that councilman levin did it all just cuz the uj care org. Has a close relation ship with the owner of the project, and he is against them just becouse they are not following vito lopez's coruption.
Nov. 13, 2010, 5:35 pm

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