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Surf’s down: Beep pans builder’s request to upzone Coney block

Rejected: Borough President Adams panned a developer's request to rezone the block of Surf Avenue between W. 22nd and W. 23rd streets.
Brooklyn Paper
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The city must reject a developer’s request to upzone a block of Surf Avenue in Coney Island because the rezoning will likely displace too many locals, according to the beep.

“Given the number of units that would be directly and indirectly displaced by the proposed development, and in absence of a legally-binding satisfactory tenant relocation plan, the requested rezoning results in too much displacement and uncertainty,” Borough President Adams said.

Developer Winiarski Entities — run by father David and brothers Nativ and Ronny Winiarski — earlier this year filed an application to upzone Surf Avenue between W. 22nd and W. 23rd streets to allow for the construction of six-to-10-story buildings in line with those that can rise in the nearby Special Coney Island District the city rezoned back in 2009.

The builder currently owns five plots on the block — an empty lot and four buildings containing dozens of apartments between them.

But the Winiarskis want to demolish their already standing structures to make way for a new mixed-use development with some below-market-rate housing on their five lots, forcing residents of units in their four buildings to find new homes.

And the developers have yet to legally promise to relocate tenants of those apartments to other similarly priced units in the neighborhood or elsewhere, according to Adams, who said residents of some 37 units — 15 of which are rent regulated, and 22 of which are not — could be left without homes in his recommendation issued on Nov. 30.

The developer previously claimed there are only 28 units among its four buildings in presenting its rezoning request to the local Community Board 13, which panned the scheme back in October.

And the Winiarskis aren’t the only landlords on that Surf Avenue block — there are 20 lots they do not own, including 11 vacant plots and a total of nine industrial, mixed-use, and residential buildings containing 81 more units, all of which would be upzoned should the builders’ request be approved, allowing those property owners to redevelop their own lots and risk displacing even more locals, Adams said.

The family firm requested the rezoning in order to erect two interconnected mixed-use high-rises — a 12-story tower facing W. 22nd Street and a five-story tower facing W. 23rd Street connected by a ground-floor retail strip.

The development will include 40 parking spots split between the roof of the commercial strip and the towers’ second story, and 20 of its units will be so-called affordable apartments reserved for tenants making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income — which data shows is $43,860 or less for a one-person household, or $62,580 for a family of four — as mandated by the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing program.

But there are several below-market-rate buildings in the works nearby — some of which will entirely contain affordable units — according to Adams, including a 134-unit affordable and supportive housing development slated to open early next year just a block away, at Surf Avenue and W. 21st Street.

Following the beep’s purely advisory recommendation on the rezoning request, the proposal moved to the City Planning Commission, which will review it at a public hearing sometime next month as part of the city’s lengthy Universal Land Use Review Procedure, which concludes with a decision from Mayor DeBlasio.

But first, the request must move from the City Planning Commission to Council — where Coney Island Councilman Mark Treyger will cast the key vote on the request, as the project sits in his district.

The pol’s chief of staff previously hinted at his disapproval of the scheme when she expressed her boss’s concerns about the Winiarskis’ lack of a detailed relocation plan for their tenants at an October CB13 meeting.

The developers’ attorney Richard Lobel said the Winiarskis cannot control if tenants of properties they do not own are displaced should the rezoning get the green light, but that his clients intend to work with locals and Treyger to relocate any occupants booted from buildings they do own if the scheme passes.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 9:30 am, December 21, 2018
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