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Community Grills Rheingold Developer for Fuzzy Plans for Site

By Gwynne Hogan | January 21, 2016 5:53pm
 A drawing for the Rheingold site from its new owners is drastically different from the mockups Read Properties had.
A drawing for the Rheingold site from its new owners is drastically different from the mockups Read Properties had.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

BUSHWICK — Neighbors already outraged by belching truck fumes at the Rheingold Brewery construction vented their frustration to the developer Wednesday night after he couldn't give them straight answers on the building plans.

It was the first time a representative of All Year Management has answered to the public since they purchased in property in October.

"You came to this meeting tonight with no drafts, no papers, nothing to give us in writing, even if it was just a memorandum of agreement. We have nothing in writing for us to even refer to," said Martha Brown, the Land Use Committee Chair of Bushwick's community board. "I beg you to have some respect for us."

Joel Greenfeld of All Year Management said he would build 20 percent affordable units at the site, the same amount as the previous owners had agreed upon with the city, but he could not provide the number of apartments being built or other details about the 160,000 square foot development.

"[There will be] two buildings, each of them will have a number of units, yet to be decided," Greenfeld said. "Nine hundred units or fewer or more."

The lack of specifics has to do with the "formal approval” process, Greenfeld said.

Though nine hundred units for his portion of the site would significantly increase the size of the development, prior plans counted 977 units for the entire lot which is now subdivided into at least two portions. Rabsky Group owns another portion of the lot.

The fuzzy numbers lumped on top of recent quality of life complaints about dozens of idling trucks as early as 4 a.m. outside 123 Melrose, further irked community board reps. 

"We wholeheartedly embrace housing in our community [but] moreover we embrace respect," said board chairwoman Julie Dent. 

And trucks idling at, "4 a.m. in the morning, that's very disrespectful," she said.

"We're the eyes and ears of Bushwick and were watching you," Dent said.

A spokesman for All Year called the idling trucks a "serious quality of life issue" and said that the company was looking into finding a closer dump site. Trucks are currently driving their loads to Pennsylvania meaning that they had to get an early start if they were going to make two trips within one work day.

“All Year makes a full commitment to make sure its addressed swiftly" said Jonathan Greenspun, a spokesman for the company.

Greenspun also promised that the developers would continue dialogue with the community at public meetings.

"We will be back and we will answer every question posed," Greenspun said. 

The community had already spent years carefully hammering out an agreement to rezone the site for residential development with the its former owner Read Property Group.

The rezoning was finally approved by the city in 2013, with stipulations that Read had to build 20 percent affordable housing onsite, 10 percent on a separate piece of land that was already given to local non-profit for senior housing, for a total of 30 percent affordable housing, the local councilman Antonio Reynoso.

The developer also agreed to contribute more than $300,000 local schools and parks and reserve nearly 18,000 square feet onsite for a public park, the letter said.

Read already gave a piece of property to local affordable housing Churches United for Fair Housing and Los Sures and has paid for some of the services it promised, Kevin Worthington, head organizer for Reynoso's office said.

"We're just making sure whatever was agreed [on] materializes," Worthington said.

Some of that burden will fall on Read, some on All Year and some on Rabsky, he said.

"We're still in the process of figuring out what's owed."