The Park Tower Group announced a 20-acre proposal that would send 10 residential towers along the Greenpoint waterfront between 30 and 40 stories into the air.
These towers would stretch from Greenpoint Pier to just before Box Street along the Newtown Creek waterfront, with roughly 5,500 units, of which 1,431 will be designated for affordable housing.
The developer added 431 to the number of affordable housing units, making more apartments than the city would deem necessary.
In addition to the affordable housing units and the apartment buildings, the developer is including parts of the plan to show that they are good neighbors.
Due to the recent events with Superstorm Sandy, Park Tower will need to acquire a zoning variance for the school and park in order to deal with surges and flood protection.
A public school will be built on the corner of Dupont and Franklin Streets to service students from pre-K through 8th grade.
On top of that, Park Tower Group donated $2.5 million to building an extension of Newtown Barge Park. The design phase has already begun and is expected to use Park Tower funding along with that of the city, totaling around $4.5 million for the project.
The developer’s contribution to the park by is private and is not mandated by the city.
In response to the community outcry against the proposal, the organization Greenpoint Waterfront Association Parks and Planning (GWAPP) and Neighborhood Allied for Good Growth (NAG) held a meeting at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant, Visitor's Center, located at 329 Greenpoint Ave. to inform the public just what the plan entailed.
Melanie Meyers, the attorney representing the developer, explained the plan to residents.
“Right now, on Franklin Street, you have an unobstructed view,” said one community member at the meeting. Would that now be obstructed?“
Meyers responded and said, “There is a requirement in the zoning to provide for pedestrians to the waterfront.” Without going into detail, she mentioned there were two “access points” to the waterfront.
Community members were concerned with the height of the buildings, increase in population and the buildings themselves. One local resident said she was upset because the proposed apartment buildings do not resemble the local architecture.
Meyers said the design would include Greenpoint landmarks in order to keep the feel of the neighborhood. For instance an existing buoy that is already in the area would be left to maintain a sense of local flavor.
“There was some initial shock at what was being built,” said Dewey Thompson of GWAPP. “Obviously this will be changing the landscape in pretty much every way.”
Another resident interrupted the meeting and asked if it was a “pie in the sky” idea to simply get the rezoning changed to make it impossible for developers to utilize the waterfront property in Greenpoint.
Community activist Lincoln Reslter said that it is not too difficult a task.
“I do feel that the fight for rezoning on the waterfront has to be,” said Restler. “On January 1, there will be a new mayoral administration, and we need to hold each of these mayoral candidates accountable now, and that’s the only way we’re going to be able to stop development on the waterfront.”
He then criticized the mayor for the 2005 rezoning and told the attendees if they want change they should contact the mayoral candidates.
Groundbreaking for the project could be as early as this year, but the entirely of the project is projected to be completed in eight to 12 years.
“People are here because they like Greenpoint as it is,” said Bess Long. “Not because it’s like some imitation Dubai or Miami beach or Williamsburg or Long Island City. People like Greenpoint because it’s chill.”
77 Commercial Street
Clipper Equities, who bought the land last year for $25 million, is looking to purchase some area, 40 stories above Greenpoint.
The proposal, which is in the beginning phase of the Urban Land Use Planning (ULUP) process, proposes a 475,000-square-foot, two-tower, mixed-use apartment building overlooking lower Manhattan on the edge of Newtown Creek.
If approved, the building would be home to 720 apartments, 200 of which designated for affordable housing.
Due to zoning regulations, the developer will have to pay an additional $8 million for the air rights in order to build the 40 and 30 story towers. Developers can currently only build up to 15 stories, but would not include affordable housing units into their plan.
The proposal comes with the promise from the developer that they will buy the development from the neighboring 65 Commercial St. Currently; the location is being used by the MTA to house their Access-A-Ride (AAR) buses.
While the MTA agreed to relocate during the 2005 rezoning, the housing market crash made it difficult to find real estate and now developers pledge to buy the adjoining property.
In addition to the apartment building, the city will use the $8 million from the air-rights deal to build a park on the site of the MTA lot.
“If they do not buy the air right, we lose the $ 8 million,” said Christine Holowacz of Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP). “The creation of the park and at the same time, we also do not get the 200 units of affordable housing.”
Jay Segal, a land development attorney, attended the meeting and told the residents while they might not be pleased with the height of the towers, there will be money going into creating a new park.
One community resident simply yelled out the word “blackmail,” following Segal’s comments.
“I think that Williamsburg and Greenpoint have become entirely different places,” said Eileen Weitzman resident of Greenpoint for 29 years. “It may have more shops, and it certainly has more homes, but it certainly lacks resources.”
Weitzman went on to criticize the project, calling for more public transportation to be built rather than adding new residential buildings to an already crowded neighborhood.
“These buildings to me represent that type of building that doesn’t consider the community at all,” Weitzman said. “It’s just a give away to the developer.