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Board Rejects Greenpoint Tower Plans Citing Need for Affordable Housing

By Meredith Hoffman | September 10, 2013 9:03pm | Updated on September 16, 2013 1:12pm
 Greenpoint Landing is slated to become a 5400-unit set of 10 towers on the Greenpoint waterfront.
Greenpoint Landing is slated to become a 5400-unit set of 10 towers on the Greenpoint waterfront.
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Handel Architects

GREENPOINT — After months of locals protesting the size of 40-story towers slated to "create a new neighborhood" on Greenpoint's waterfront, the local community board rejected the planned development.

Community Board 1 opposed the specific plans for a dozen towers with 6,100 apartments — unless developers added significant numbers of affordable and senior housing units.

"This is our last chance for real affordable housing," Del Teague, the chair of the land use committee said of the major projects at Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street. "We have a waiting list of seniors that's so long, they're dying before they get housed."

Teague admitted that she considered the developments' slated heights "disgusting," but she noted that the city's 2005 rezoning already allows Greenpoint Landing to extend up to 400 feet.

"People who testified at the public hearings were desperate for affordable housing," Teague said. "We voted as stringently as we could possibly consider."

The proposed developments already include affordable units, but the board wanted the price of those units to be "truly affordable."

The developers proposed affordable units to cater to residents who make 80 percent Area Median Income (the equivalent of $62,000 annual income for a family of three). But Community Board 1 asked that those units serve residents who make between 40 and 60 percent Area Median Income (as low as $30,960 for a family of three).

Plus the board ruled that at least 100 units in Greenpoint Landing should be reserved for senior affordable housing.

The board's vote — which is only advisory — is part of a long process in which the city determines whether to approve the developers' proposals.

And a spokesman for the Chetrit Group, 77 Commercial Street's developer, called the vote "the beginning point of a dialogue" between the community and the builders.

"We understand what the board wants...and we will look at it," said the spokesman Edward Wallace, who said the Chetrit Group would form a "working group" with the community throughout the process. He said he was not sure whether the board's affordable housing demands were "economically feasible."

A spokeswoman for Greenpoint Landing Associates, developing Greenpoint Landing, noted that the towers already would include affordable housing, along with a public school and open space for the community.

"We appreciate the community board's time and input and will review their recommendations as we continue to move forward with the ULURP process," she said of the city land use review process.

To some local residents completely opposed to the project, the board was "settling" and should have opposed the towers altogether.

"Why are we not just rejecting it outright?" Community Board 1 member Esteban Duran challenged the rest of the group about the 77 Commercial Street project, at which the audience at Monday's meeting broke into applause.

And City Council candidate Stephen Pierson has pledged to fight the 40-story towers in court.

But Teague said that if the board completely rejected the proposal, the city would ignore their advisory vote.

"If we reject it outright the city will give the [developers] what they want," Teague said.

"We felt what we can do is demand they give us the affordable housing and senior housing. If we can get that it's pretty incredible."

The Brooklyn Borough President's office will hold public hearing on Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street at Brooklyn Borough Hall Sept. 17 at 5 p.m.