Breaking news! City Council approves Dock Street project!

The Brooklyn Paper
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The City Council voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to give DUMBO developer Jed Walentas the rezoning that he needs to build a controversial 17-story tower next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Council’s 40–9 vote comes on the heels of last week’s 17–4 vote in the Council’s land-use committee to support Walentas’s request to rezone his site on Dock Street so that he could build a 300-unit tower — which includes a public middle school and scores of units set aside as below-market-rate rentals, but will, opponents claim, forever damage views of the historic and landmarked span.

“We are grateful for today’s vote by the City Council,” said Jed Walentas, a principal at Two Trees Management, the DUMBO development company started by David Walentas more than two decades ago.

Opponents were still furious after the vote. Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) long opposed the project on the grounds that its tallest portion would block views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Other opponents complained that the “affordable housing” component of the project — 20 percent of its 300-odd units — aren’t affordable enough.

“The 80–20 formula to me is not affordable,” said Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie). “Developers should pay more and do more with affordabil­ity.”

But Councilwoman Leticia James (D–Fort Greene) countered such opposition by touting the middle school space that Walentas would set aside in his Beyer Blinder Belle-designed tower.

“The Dock Street project is exactly the kind of smart, innovative, carefully crafted and planned partnerships for the future of this city at this time of challenging fiscal needs,” she said.

With Wednesday’s vote, the project sails past a controversy involving several internal e-mails between School Construction Authority officials and Two Trees Management that cast doubt about whether or not the city did a full job of investigating whether other sites for a public middle school could be more cost-effective.

At a prior hearing, Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) called one of the e-mails “the most disturbing document that I have seen in my eight years in Council,” he said.

The full Council vote in support of the project was a rare instance when the legislature did not defer to the wishes of the local member, in this case, Yassky.

The rezoning bill now goes Mayor Bloomberg for an expected signature into law. Earlier this year, Borough President Markowitz (who called for a taller and thinner building) and the City Planning Commission (which suggested a slightly shorter building with other minor alternations), already approved the rezoning.

Meanwhile opponents, and their celebrity backers including Ken Burns, Gabriel Byrne, Helen Hunt, Gary Sinise and David McCullough, are holding out hope that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will review the e-mail exchanges and step in.

A review by The Brooklyn Paper earlier this year revealed that very few public views of the bridge would be obscured by the tower.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to correct an earlier, preliminary vote total.
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Reasonable discourse

Pat Kinsella from Bay Ridge says:
I doubt this is over, This wil give a Green light to surround the Brooklyn Bridge with these buildings, a big mistake.
June 10, 2009, 10:38 pm
Pat Ki from South Brooklyn says:
Hey marty, what are you getting out of this?
June 10, 2009, 10:40 pm
JTKirk from DUMBO says:
Glad to see the majority prevailed over a select few who stand to lose the sacred views from their apartments. DNA ran their anti dock street campaign like a bunch of thugs and have now suffered the consequence.
June 11, 2009, 10:07 am
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
The city is getting a school out of the deal. That's great because the city does not know how to build schools.
June 11, 2009, 1:16 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:

If you honestly think the 'Majority' prevailed, then you don't understand math. You proponents were in the minority all along. Your side only prevailed because of cash. It is obvious. All petitions, protests, and community organizations were against it. You think they listened to you? THEY COULDN'T CARE. If the Majority had the cash, they could have bought out these so called 'representatives'
June 11, 2009, 6:54 pm
jimfromearth from dyker heights says:
the dumbo area sucks! especially in the winter. a real boring area and dangerous too. a couple of blocks from the projects. i see things from i assume the projects. milling around at night by washington st. and adams. you have to be pretty neive to buy/live in this area.
June 11, 2009, 11:15 pm
Judah Spechal from Bed-Stuy says:
This project was approve because in this election year politicians who oppose the Atlantic Yards project could not go against the Unions again. Why do you think there's a school in it? So those same politician can tout some public benefit.
June 12, 2009, 11:55 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
Unfortunately, as with all new brooklyn developments, the Unions won't get work. Be ready to see an inflatable rat at this site.
June 14, 2009, 8:33 pm

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