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Three Stalled Waterfront Developments Request Renewals to Build

By Serena Dai | June 18, 2014 12:15pm
 An early rendering of a proposed development at 155 West St. in Greenpoint.
An early rendering of a proposed development at 155 West St. in Greenpoint.
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Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP

WILLIAMSBURG — Three different waterfront developments that gained city approval years ago have requested to renew their permits in recent weeks, long after the recession stalled construction.

The projects would add more than 450 affordable units to North Brooklyn.

Rector Hylan, owner of the property at the former Kedem Winery lot at 420-430 Kent Ave., asked for Community Board 1's support this month to renew its original 2006 permit to build 18- and 24-story towers with 450 apartment units, with 20 percent affordable, for a second time.

Then, the board voted to support renewing the Rose Plaza on the River development at 462-490 Kent Ave., five buildings with 754 units, 226 of which are affordable — a project initially approved in 2010.

A 39-story mixed-used development approved in 2009 at 145 and 155 West St. in Greenpoint also gained the board's support to renew its permit, which includes 140 units of affordable housing in a separate building from one that's market rate.

The projects would also all feature developer-built public green space.

The 2008 recession and financing issues largely kept the developments from moving forward.

Eric Palatnik, a zoning attorney and representative for Rector Hylan, has blamed construction costs and economic climate on the failures to start on the initial permit, which was renewed in 2011.

He did not say why the project has been delayed since then and did not respond to requests for further comment. The owners wanted the permit renewed until 2016, Palatnik said.

Currently, the property houses movie studio Cine Magic Riverfront Studios. Cine Magic owner Peter Kapsalis declined to comment.

Meanwhile, owners of the Rose on the Plaza property put it up for sale for $210 million last year. Reports came out in 2009 that one of its owners, Isack Rosenberg, faced bankruptcy, and then in 2011, The Brooklyn Paper reported that Rosenberg aimed to pay for the project with money from other rentals.

The owner's representative Howard Weiss and brokers for the property at Eastern Consolidated did not respond to requests for comment.

Developers of 145 and 155 West St. in Greenpoint said the credit freeze after the recession kept the project from moving forward, according to Vivien Krieger, attorney for the developers.

They now hope to break ground early next year, she said.

"Fortunately, the outlook for Greenpoint has only improved," she said in an email.

West Street's designs are old enough now that design would not fly under new zoning laws, which require integrated below-market and market rate units in the same building  — a detail that brought pause to Community Board 1's land use committee, said committee chair Del Teague.

Some committee members struggled with the fact that they were not together, Teague said. Others wanted to approve the plan since it had been approved before. But ultimately, the board supported the renewal, a vote that's advisory to city officials.

Richard Mazur, executive director of North Brooklyn Development Corp., said in a statement to the board this month that locals — from schools to churches — are eager to see the West Street project finished to bring affordable housing to the Greenpoint waterfront.

"The project is shovel ready," said Mazur, "and Greenpoint wants these 140 units of affordable housing now."