Pols slam, reject Carroll Gardens rezoning after developer refuses to include below-market housing

No go: The Council’s land-use committee unanimously rejected a developer’s pitch to rezone this Carroll Street lot after it refused to include below-market housing.
Brooklyn Paper
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The Council’s land-use committee shot down a developer’s pitch to rezone an industrial Carroll Gardens lot for condos after the builder refused to include any below-market-rate housing, rejecting the plan unanimously on Wednesday and giving the firm a tongue-lashing in the process.

The proposal especially enraged Councilman Brad Lander (D–Carroll Gardens), who got into a heated exchange with the builder’s lawyer at a hearing a few days earlier, at one point threatening to walk out.

“You’re taking away something that’s useful to the public … and adding nothing that is useful to the public,” said Lander at the zoning subcommittee hearing on Monday. “I don’t understand why we’d even consider supporting it.”

Oestreicher Properties first applied to erect a 10-unit complex on 14–18 Carroll St. between Columbia and Van Brunt streets in 2012 after buying the vacant land for $1.5 million.

But a series of delays, including Hurricane Sandy, pushed the lengthy rezoning process back and the city then introduced its mandatory inclusionary housing scheme, which requires builders to include so-called affordable housing in new properties of more than 12,500 square feet.

Oestreicher insists it should be exempt because its proposal squeaks in just below at 12,459 square feet, but Lander and the local community board told the developer it would need to comply anyway if it wants their blessing — and the pol was outraged when the firm came before the Council this week with no intention to do so, leading to the showdown on Monday.

The builder’s lawyer Adam Rothkrug accused the Council of saying, “Pay us this money and you’ll get your rezoning” — and Lander then said he’d storm out of the hearing if the legal eagle didn’t retract.

“I think you should step back that comment — no one here is trying to hold anyone up for money,” the councilman said.

Rothkrug took it back and the hearing continued, but he maintained that it is “wrong” to demand Oestreicher include below-market housing when there is no legal obligation to do so, while the members explained that it is unprecedented for a developer in the DeBlasio era to seek a rezoning with no low-income housing.

If the developer’s honchos want the community to sacrifice manufacturing space in a neighborhood where rising rents are driving industry out, they need to give something back, Lander said — he suggested three below-market units.

“If there’s not a significant public benefit we should leave the manufacturing zoning in place,” he said. “We don’t need a few new market-rate condos.”

The developer is willing to make a “mid-to-high six-figure” donation to an organization that supports below-market housing, Rothkrug said — but Lander scoffed at the suggestion.

The mandatory inclusionary program has an option to pay into a city-controlled fund for affordable housing to be built elsewhere, but Rothkrug said his firm would be on the hook for $2.2 million, which he claimed would be a “project killer.”

Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D–Bushwick) responded that it was “absurd” for the real estate tycoons to insist they must make a profit when they chose to pay way more for the industrial land than it is worth.

“You paid the price of a Lamborghini for a Civic,” he said. “You made a bad investment.”

Oestreicher did not return a request for comment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

sell out from the city says:
There is no goodwill in selling out industry in exchange for token "below market housing". It's wrong, wrong wrong!

We need industry for sustainability and diversity and these feel good zoning changes do nothing to help a community and everything to destroy it, that is except for the developers and the new people that displace the existing.
Dec. 15, 2016, 4:14 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Disappointed to hear this dumbness from Brad Lander:

"“You’re taking away something that’s useful to the public " about "after buying the vacant land for $1.5 million."
Dec. 15, 2016, 11:25 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
The idea that homes for 3-6 people counts as "a public benefit" is insane to begin with. The public doesn't get to take advantage of them. It's a six-lucky-people benefit.
Dec. 15, 2016, 11:28 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Stick to them! Force these developers to allow below market housing.
They should be accorded no special favor unless there is a public good to be returned.
Dec. 15, 2016, 11:31 am
John Q from Gowanus says:
Thanks BP for the laugh this morning. I nominate Brad Lander for the Nimbylist NIMBY award for his outstanding flexibility. He can beat the crap out of a small developer but has no problem giving a blank check to his wealthy friends and supporters in Cobble Hill to avoid affordable the exact same thing. Bravo Brad!
Dec. 15, 2016, 11:38 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I didn't notice the picture at first. Hahahaha. It should be captioned "“You’re taking away something that’s useful to the public"-Brad Lander, about THIS"
Dec. 15, 2016, 2:22 pm
Emma from Williamsburg says:
This is why NYC is so expensive and only the lucky few win the housing lottery for a lifetime of subsidized housing.
Dec. 15, 2016, 10:59 pm
Emma from Williamsburg says:
Lander needs an education to learn that no supply and high demand equals high prices. Lander is putting idealogical battles ahead of city needs.
Dec. 15, 2016, 10:59 pm
Robert from Cobble Hill says:
The developer is willing to pay into a fund for affordable housing off site within Brooklyn. The problem isn't a developer unwilling to contribute to affordable housing, it is the City's incomplete inclusionary housing law that allows for payment to a fund, but years later still doesn't have the fund or fund rules established.
Dec. 16, 2016, 10:35 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Thank you, Mr. Landers. An ideology of fairness does matter. Time for this counsilman to run for mayor.
Dec. 17, 2016, 9:13 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
If it's on the other side of the trench, it's Red Hook.
Dec. 18, 2016, 7:01 pm

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