The project, to be called “Rose Plaza on the River,” is a proposed three-tower, 800-unit, mixed-use complex planned for South Williamsburg’s East River waterfront.
It would replace a lumberyard and parking lot on Kent Avenue, and join a number of high-rise residential towers that have sprung up along the waterfront as a result of the contentious Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning passed in 2005.
Because the current Rose Development was left out of that rezoning, it is moving through the city land use review process independently. The site is bounded by Kent and Division Avenues to the east and south, respectively, and Schaefer Landing to the north.
Community Board 1 voted to reject the development, which has been years in the making, at its December 1st meeting.
One week later, the project was front and center at a December 8th Borough Hall land use public hearing, where Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, expressed several objections to the current plan.
“The community board objected to this” project, Markowitz told Howard Weiss, who represents the developers seeking a rezoning to move the project forward. “I want to hear from you what you’re offering today that overcomes those objections.”
Weiss said the proposed 163,000-square-foot project already address CB1’s concerns over affordable housing, open space, and public access.
Approximately 100,000 square feet of the site would be set aside for open space, Weiss said, and 20 percent of the apartments would be designated for affordable housing.
Nonetheless, said Weiss, in response to CB1 objections, the developers are open to reviewing their proposed mix of units with an eye towards building a higher number of large apartments. This would favor Williamsburg’s Hasidic families, which tend to big very large.
“We have slowly taken the best of the best of everything that’s been approved to this point,” said Weiss, who argued that the current plan would benefit local residents of North Brooklyn, while also attracting new residents to the area.
Markowitz said the project still falls short in one crucial area.
“You say 20 percent [affordable housing] is all you can do,” Markowitz said, but “I hope you know right now that is unacceptable to me.” Noting that the neighborhood - and all of Brooklyn - needs more affordable housing, he suggested an affordability component closer to 40 percent.
Other critics of the plan agreed, and a tense exchange with proponents of the project ensued. It featured a rare public acknowledgment of the two feuding groups within Williamsburg’s Hasidic Satmar movement, who stand on opposite sides of the Rose Development issue.
“There are two sides of [the Hasidic community] and that’s the reason we’re here tonight,” said one Williamsburg resident, Moishe Indig. “It's unfortunate to say it in public, but its something that we have to take into consideration.”
Markowitz was unmoved. “Your dirty laundry you should discuss in your own community,” he said. “To the outside world you’re one, believe me.”
Markowitz’s office has 60 days to review the project before making a recommendation. It then moves to the City Planning Commission.