Council OKs Brookhattan

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Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint residents are bracing for the end of their neighborhoods as they know them in the wake of three major development projects winning Council and community board approvals this week, opening the way for the construction of thousands of new high-rise apartments.

On Tuesday, the Council voted 48 to 1, with only Councilman Charles Barron (D–East Flatbush) opposed, to approve key elements of the Greenpoint Landing project, planned for the waterfront where Newtown Creek meets the East River, as well as the Rheingold development, slated for an industrial area of Bushwick. The overwhelming support for the projects came despite outcry from residents in both neighborhoods who say the proposed complexes are monstrosities that will overwhelm the infrastructure of their stomping grounds and drive the rents sky-high.

“All this big development is going to change the face and dynamics of the whole community,” said Community Board 1 chair Chris Olechowski. “Ten years from now, these neighborhoods are going to be unrecogniz­able.”

The “Yea” vote for crucial aspects of Greenpoint Landing flies in the face of the recommendation of Olechowski’s panel, which serves Williamsburg and Greenpoint and voted against the project citing a distrust of the developer. The Rheingold redevelopment already had the seal of approval of Bushwick’s Community Board 4, but residents accused the panel of treachery for holding a special summer meeting just to discuss and vote on the project.

For Greenpoint Landing, the city’s giveaway of two city-owned lots in the project’s footprint cleared the way for the Park Tower Group to build 10 towers holding as many as 5,500 apartments, most of which would have been allowed under current zoning.

The Rheingold project calls for 977 residential units in eight 10-story buildings off of Flushing Avenue.

The Council negotiated perks for each community as a condition of approving the projects. Along with Greenpoint Landing, the neighborhood will get $3-million from the company toward building Newtown Barge Park, a city-funded transportation study to determine how to improve transit in the area, and $25,000 per year to keep a new, in-development middle school open as an after-hours community space. The developer also agreed that the 431 below-market-rate apartment units in the compound will stay that way forever.

The Rheingold developer promised Bushwick a grab bag of goodies, including seven lots for a non-profit company to turn into affordable housing, $360,000 for upgrades to nearby elementary schools PS 120 and PS 145, and $350,000 for sprucing up Green Central Knoll Park. Bushwick was also promised more green space and $50,000 for programming at a community center inside the development.

But residents say the perks do not compare to the havoc the new neighbors will wreak on the world outside their windows.

“This is going to be a nightmare,” said Greenpointer Laura Risi Hofman. “The neighborhood is not prepared for it.”

Also on Tuesday, Community Board 1 voted to approve developer Two Trees Management’s vision for an apartment tower town around Williamsburg’s former Domino Sugar factory at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. The board’s vote is strictly advisory, but it sets the tone for the rest of the review process, especially since the retooled version of the proposal has seen a lot more support this time around.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to clarify that much of Greenpoint Landing could be built as-of-right and the Council vote concerned only a few aspects of the project, including the gift of public land to the developer.
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Reasonable discourse

jjm from c. hill says:
This is gonna attract so many burglaries & stick-ups whenever it gets completed. Just look at Ft. Greene with all the changes it has gone through over the years, now its a mugger's paradise.
Dec. 13, 2013, 6:40 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Yes, transit access and capacity is not ideal in northern Greenpoint, along the Williamsburg waterfront, and in Bushwick. Transit is good in Manhattan, but you're not allowed to build there. Because it will change the face and dynamics of the community, as CB1's myopic chair puts it.
Dec. 13, 2013, 8:45 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
I think this will put some considerable strain on an already challenged transit system. This is a bit of a hike to the Subways and they are getting near capacity. Buses don't really take enough people where they need to go. Hopefully the ferry will help.
Dec. 13, 2013, 5:14 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
It's more like developers and other interest groups are in bed with politicians. It's like saying that they will help them when the election comes or go for the other person if they don't agree with them. This is just plutocracy at its finest in believing that money talks.
Dec. 13, 2013, 5:56 pm
Anna from Brooklyn Heights says:
This Greenpoint plan seems like madness. My husband's parents lived in that neighborhood and it's very inaccessible. Even the G train is far away from this area they're developing. The ferry would be the main lifeline, and isn't the ferry only in a trial run and possibly soon discontinued because it loses so much money?
Dec. 15, 2013, 1:20 am
RB from Williamsburg says:
From 2010 to 2012, the total population of NYC grew 2% in Brooklyn ALONE. That is a lot of people. The city is anticipated to keep growing at this rate, and add another 1.1 million people by 2013.

Simply put, these people need to live somewhere, and there is currently a massive housing shortage all over the city.

Major developments are happening all over the city, in every borough. The City Council is greenlighting these projects and shoe-horning in perks for the neighborhood not because they are in bed with developers, but because they are aware of the housing crisis. Look at the numbers before you make unsubstantiated claims about not building in Manhattan or rotten political machines.
Dec. 16, 2013, 11:19 am
RB from Williamsburg says:
*1.1 million new residents by 2030, excuse me.
Dec. 16, 2013, 11:20 am

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