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Say “NO” To
Rezoning River St

Across our city, our neighborhoods have become victims of poor rezoning rather than smart planning.

Now a developer is asking the city to rezone one of the last low-density sites on the North Brooklyn waterfront: 87-105 River St (Near Kent & Metropolitan). This is one of the few blocks of waterfront that was excluded from the 2005 rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The developer's plans show unprecedented 65-story towers and a 35 year tax abatement worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Our city desperately needs money to recover, we need to end the practice of giving wealthy developers massive tax breaks that should be given to schools, infrastructure, the MTA and real affordable housing.

The developers are pushing this rezoning to happen during a pandemic because the decision maker is our current city council member, Stephen Levin, whose term ends this year.

This site does NOT need to be rezoned again. It will go through the ULURP (rezoning approval) process where it is our choice as a community what we would like to see on this site. It can and should be developed as per right—a low density site that creates local jobs and pays taxes.

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UPDATE: Our Newly Elected Assembly Member,
City Council Member, and Borough President
All Stand Against This Project

Here’s why we’re fighting

The Current Zoning Provides Balance And Jobs

Illustration of the sites as they could be built under current zoning – providing 750+ full-time jobs:

A few examples of how the current M3-1 zoning is being used in nearby neighborhoods:

Industry City
Trader Joe’s
Brooklyn Navy Yard
The New Lab
Transmitter Brewing Company
Steiner Studios

The Proposed Plan Asks For An Enormous Tax Abatement

The developer is seeking a 421-A tax abatement to avoid paying any taxes towards the services and infrastructure that the buildings’ population saturates. These are tax dollars our neighborhood desperately needs for schools, fire/police, infrastructure like trash cans and street cleaning, and hospitals.

The 421-A program is a broken system that exchanges tax dollars for a low percentage of affordable units. Housing advocates across the city have called for an end to 421-A, which finally expires next year.

The developer is rushing for approvals before the program expires.

The Proposed Park Is Deeply Flawed And Misleading

This proposal seemingly counts three acres of the East River towards “open space.” If we only count the public space it appears we can actually walk on, the remaining space would not appear to come close to the city’s guidelines of 2.5 acres per 1,000 residents for the 2,000+ residents these towers will be adding. (In fact they are proposing less than ½ of the open space needed for their own residents.)

And, while we welcome tourists, it’s hard to consider Domino Park, “open space” for the community when it is listed along with Coney Island and Smorgasburg as Tripadvisor’s Top Attractions In Brooklyn. The waterfront is already packed with visitors weekdays and weekends, and the existing planned waterfront development isn’t even halfway done. The purpose of open space is to relieve density, but at this scale—against the towers—it causes congestion rather than relief.

79.1% of North Brooklyn residents with an opinion on this proposal are against rezoning the Williamsburg waterfront.
2020 North Brooklyn Survey

This Neighborhood Was Already Rezoned

The community was already asked to create its own 197-A plan — a plan which was largely ignored as the City approved 3x more density while eliminating nearly all manufacturing jobs. These are the same local jobs, manufacturers, goods and supplies that were sorely needed during the pandemic.

“Let’s think first about revitalization successes. [...] They don’t result from gigantic plans and show-off projects.”

Overburdened Transportation

Our transportation infrastructure is already strained. Consider that the proposed plan alone will likely add thousands of morning L Train riders to your commute.

Rents Go Up For Everyone

While a few lottery winners receive “affordable housing” (87,000 applicants for 104 apartments at 325 Kent Ave), data shows the explosion of luxury rentals and $4,000+ 1 bedroom apartments raises the “market rate” of all housing in the neighborhood. Vibrant neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable for residents and small businesses.

Our Neighbors Are Getting Displaced

While developers raise rents, our neighborhood is losing many of the institutions that make it exceptional. And, as Covid-19 changes the landscape, more than ever we need to protect local businesses.

Irresponsible Development

The proposed plan would add thousands of residents to a neighborhood that has been through more condo construction than any other NYC neighborhood for the last decade.

According to the NY Times, there are already more than 8,500 new apartments coming to the area and three towers yet to be built next door, without needed additional community services.

We need city planning and infrastructure, not rushing another 1,000 luxury apartments.

The Proposed Rezoning Sets A Precedent No New Yorker Should Want

The site comes into question only because a developer took a bet—paying what calculations suggest was twice its value—assuming they would be able to rezone it to high-value residential and make a profit. The seller walked away with 10’s of millions above market value, while the community is left without the infrastructure and services needed as a result of yet another developer’s enormous money-making vision.

Rezoning decisions should be made by city planning and neighborhoods, not developers who throw money at a broken process.

Striking this down, and taking control of the conversation, builds more power for our community to say what’s best for our neighborhood.

But we can stop it! We are already more than 4,900 neighbors strong

These Developers Are Asking For An Exception — We Can Say NO

“This is the end of developer deference. This is the end of developers running projects through the City Council. Those days are over. My message to developers is: community is where the power is at.” — Councilmember Menchaca

Community resistance led Industry City developers to back out of their rezoning proposal. Inwood fought and won against an approved rezoning, which was then nullified. New Yorkers insisted Amazon not be exempt from taxes, which didn't stop them from leasing 335,000 sqft of office space. Williamsburg can be just as strong in its opposition—and we can win!

The decision for River Street rests in our Council Member, Steve Levin’s, hands. He has said he will “follow the community’s lead” on this decision. We are the community. Join us in telling Steve, Community Board 1, and Mayor de Blasio: “No, thank you.” Please keep the zoning as-is and let the developer build something useful for our community.

Here’s How You Can Help

1. Join The Cause

Let us know how we can reach you. To make sure our elected leaders hear us, we need to make sure they hear from all of us, and at the right time.

2. Be Heard

Write Council Member Stephen Levin below and urge him to stand with the community.

3. Show Up

Brooklyn Community Board 1 is the front line of the rezoning discussion. Joining these public meetings is one of the ways we can make ourselves heard and shape the future of our neighborhood.

Check the calendar for upcoming meetings.

We Can Do This!

So many of our neighbors showed up to protest, our Community Board had to find a larger venue.