CM Levin announces benefits won in GPL land use actions

by GWAPP on

Official Press Release from Council Member Stephen Levin’s office:

CM Levin statement on benefits won in Greenpoint Landing land use actions
ANNOUNCES VICTORIES FOR OPEN SPACE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING, AND TRANSPORTATION

BROOKLYN – Council Member Stephen Levin is announcing numerous community benefits that were achieved for Greenpoint through the approval of the Greenpoint Landing land use actions. The actions voted on and passed at the Council today were limited in scope, comprising just a portion of the entire Greenpoint Landing development, including the proposed disposition and designation of 16 Dupont Street (Lot 6 or the “sludge tank”) and 219 West Street (Lot 32) as an Urban Development Action Area, as well as the siting of a pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade public school for the Greenpoint community. Levin won numerous benefits – including ones for open space, affordable housing, and transportation – that were agreed to with the developer, Greenpoint Landing Associates (GLA), and the City.

“Throughout the ULURP process, I have listened diligently to the concerns of the Greenpoint community. As the representative and a resident of Greenpoint, I share their concerns about the lack of infrastructure and open space, as well as the environmental issues facing our neighborhood. After long and detailed discussions with the developer, Greenpoint will finally be getting the open space and affordable housing that it deserves.”

Due to the 2005 rezoning of North Brooklyn, the Greenpoint Landing project can be built as-of-right. The land use actions taken at the Council have no bearing on the majority of the project but only to two small parcels of the project.

“The 2005 rezoning of Greenpoint-Williamsburg promised open space, affordable housing, and other mitigations that would offset the high-rise residential development. Luxury housing has been built, but until today, many of these commitments have gone unfulfilled. Now, after negotiations with GLA and the City, we have a clear plan and real commitments in place that will benefit our community long into the future.”

Through negotiations, Council Member Levin won many benefits for the community, including, but not limited to:

  • $3 million in additional funding for Newtown Barge Park from GLA (bringing the total park budget from $7 million to $10 million);
  • an agreement from GLA that the 431 affordable units built in accordable with this agreement will be permanently affordable and will be available to families earning incomes in line with the 2005 Points of Agreement, from 40-120% of AMI;
  • an agreement from the City to fund and conduct a comprehensive and long fought for transportation plan for Community Board 1;
  • an agreement that GLA will contribute $25,000 annually to a fund to keep the new school open after school hours for use as a community space;
  • and a requirement that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) undertake a comprehensive remediation of the Nuhart site, across the street from the Greenpoint Landing project, before the School Construction Authority (SCA) breaks ground on the new elementary school. This includes an extremely comprehensive cleanup requirement for recently discovered contamination migration underneath Dupont and Franklin Streets. While no environmental contamination has been found on the Greenpoint Landing site, including the school site, GLA has agreed to work with Council Member Levin, SCA, DEC, and the Greenpoint community to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place to monitor the school site.

“Greenpoint is the place I call home and I cherish it immensely. By reaching agreements to increase funding for Newtown Barge Park, build permanently affordable housing, conduct a CB1 transportation plan, and fund a local community space, we are bringing real benefits directly to the neighborhood that will have a positive impact for Greenpointers.”

Neighborhood organizations also voiced their support for the agreements reached through the discussions.

Ward Dennis, Co-Chair of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) said, “The 2005 rezoning came with many promises. The promise of development and change were quick to be fulfilled. Open space, affordable housing and other promises have been slower to come. With this agreement, real and meaningful benefits for residents of Greenpoint – new and old – have finally been realized. The open space commitments, commitment to a comprehensive transportation study and environmental remediation that are part of this agreement go a long way toward meeting some of the basic needs of the North Brooklyn community.”

Dewey Thompson and Christine Holowacz of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP) said, “We are pleased with the fact that Councilman Levin framed his negotiation with the community’s overall unhappiness about the way the 2005 rezoning has been implemented by the city. GWAPP will continue to fight for what was promised to the community in the 2005 rezoning, but in the meantime we are very happy with the money secured for Newtown Barge Park and the agreement to convene an environmental task force to address the environmental concerns of the community.”

See below for a list of benefits reached through negotiations with GLA and the City:

Open Space

  • GLA will contribute an additional $3 million dollars to finance the last $3 million dollars spent on the expansion of the Newtown Barge Park, for a total contribution of $5.5 million dollars (bringing the total park budget from $7 million to $10 million)
  • GLA agrees to pay the City for the cost of fencing to secure the area to facilitate the expansion of the existing Barge Park toward the waterfront
  • GLA agrees to surrender its leasehold interest on Lot 32 if the City wishes to use any portion of the Lot for interim uses or interim open space

Affordable Housing

  • This action will allow for the creation of 431 units of affordable housing. GLA agrees that this affordable housing will be available to families earning incomes in line with the 2005 Points of Agreement, from 40-120%
  • City agrees to reinstate $500,000 for the tenant anti-harassment and displacement collaborative in CB1
  • GLA commits to exploring the addition of affordable three-bedroom units
  • If funding for senior housing, such as the HUD Section 202 program, becomes available, GLA commits to including senior housing in Phase II or III.

Transportation

  • City agrees to fund and conduct a comprehensive Community Board 1 transportation plan
  • GLA has agreed to establish a free shuttle bus service at Greenpoint Landing providing access to the 7 train at Court Square Station and the G train at India Street that will be in place at the time of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for both of the first two POA Unit buildings
  • GLA agrees to pursue the inclusion of a car share facility within one of the first three development parcels on the site

School

  • GLA agrees to donate a site for a 640-seat pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade District 14 public school to the School Construction Authority pursuant to a long term lease
  • GLA has agreed to participate in a school task force comprised of GLA, SCA, the Department of Education, and community stakeholders
  • GLA agrees to commence immediate sidewalk and fence improvements at the school site to improve pedestrian access
  • GLA and the School Construction Authority (SCA) agree that no school shall begin construction at the Greenpoint Landing site until the following conditions are met:
    • The environmental conditions associated with the Nuhart site that have moved off-site (including the public streets, sidewalks, and playgrounds), shall achieve a comprehensive clean up requiring an unrestricted use or restricted residential use for the site according to NYCRR Part 375-6.3 and 375-6.6 NY State Regulations, which are the soil clean up standards that are protective of children’s health.
    • For any chemicals that do not have existing DEC soil or groundwater cleanup objectives, the developer will support the efforts of DEC and DOH, as well as a community advisory panel (CAP), to develop site-specific soil and groundwater cleanup objectives according to part 375-6.9 of the DEC Brownfield and Superfund regulations that are protective of children’s health and takes into account synergistic and cumulative health impacts and is based on a one in a million cancer risk.

Various

  • GLA agrees to contribute $25,000 annually to a fund to keep the school open after school hours for use by community-based organizations
  • GLA agrees to maintain a contact for the community and local leaders during construction of the project available to answer questions and address concerns that might arise during the course of the development of the project
  • GLA agrees to work with the Councilmember’s office to organize a demolition, abatement and construction task force to monitor the progress of the development and the environmental impacts (including noise) of the construction of the project
  • GLA agrees that it will work in good faith with the trades and service workers towards a Project Labor Agreement for the buildings containing market rate units
  • GLA agrees to incorporate smaller retail facilities within the Project, and in particular will:
    • Limit the size of each retail establishments within the POA Unit buildings and on the City-owned properties to no more than 3,000 sf other than for (i) galleries, (ii) a food store, (iii) eating and drinking establishments and (iv) convenience stores
    • Commit to work with the Brooklyn and Greenpoint Chambers of Commerce to help identify potential Brooklyn-based tenants for the retail spaces within the project.

CONTACT: Matt Ojala, (212) 788-7348.

GWAPP

GWAPP

The Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning, Inc. ("GWAPP") is a not-for-profit group, 501(c)(3), comprised of individuals, community organizations, religious institutions, and concerned citizens from the Greenpoint-Williamsburg communities dedicated to the development of parks and public access on the Greenpoint waterfront.
  • Garret commented:

    Before I comment on the GPL story, which is a done deal, I’ll say that as far as 77 Commercial goes, which the City Council will be voting on soon, I’m to the point where I feel they should only build a 15-story as of right tower. I want the City Council to reject their offer of affordable housing and their paltry 8 million for the park next door in exchange for a FORTY STORY tower. How about the CIty first finds a way to build the affordable housing on city owned sites that was promised in 2005? Do we really need to make a bad deal that results in an even bigger tower at 77 Commercial to get affordable housing?

    As for the GLA news:

    Am I supposed to be excited about this? GLA is donating $3 million more to Barge park… yay.

    I’m no expert, and I would LOVE it if someone smart can tell my why this deal awesome, but here are some of my concerns:

    How great is the affordable housing thing? Is 40-120% of AMI great? What’s the allocation within that? Is there a poor door? Does this agreement address any of the concerns that bright housing advocates have been raising at the meetings this year?

    The GLA will “fund and conduct a transportation plan”? That sounds pretty weak. “There, we funded and conducted a transportation plan. All done.” What does that even mean? Again, I confess my ignorance. I’ll be thrilled if someone can comment here and educate me about this.

    I like the sound of $25,000 to keep the school open after hours, but is that enough? What does that get us, exactly?

    Remediation of Nuhart before the school starts construction is good, but does GLA have any incentive to move that along quickly?

    I realize that much of the project can be built as of right and that the ULURP process is only about a specific list of issues, but it’s still a huge bummer that the project is going through as requested despite the fact that the new residents are going to overcrowd the MTA bus and subway system and congest traffic; the projects will likely raise property values and rental prices that will result in long-time residents being displaced from the surrounding neighborhood; the toxic site remediation dangers could be something out of Dante’s Inferno, especially if the developers are in charge; local residents are going to have at least a decade of construction traffic; taxes may go up for current locals and will be abated for new residents; and the character of Greenpoint is going to change for the worse.

    And I still see NO plan for our infrastructure to handle the 10s of thousands of new residents. How much fire, police, sewage, electricity, hospital, etc. is needed for all of these people? Is ONE new school even enough?!

    But hey, this is progress, baby!

    Reply

  • Garret commented:

    I’d like to add that I appreciate all the effort that Councilman Levin has put into trying to get a better deal for the community. This ship sailed in 2005 and now we’re just trying to mitigate its wake.

    Reply

  • GWAPP

    GWAPP commented:

    Hey Garrent, Thanks so much for commenting. We hope you had the opportunity to express your concerns to City Council before the meeting last week.

    Via Ward Dennis (NAG):

    “My outlook on this is that the GPL ULURP actions were really centered around fulfilling the City’s promises from 2005. The affordable housing proposed is the city-owned site affordable, and the parks money wrung out of the developer is the money (or part of the money) promised by the City in 2005. The various land swaps and relatively small number of incremental market-rate units provided the incentive for the developer to play ball. This may be over-simplifying things, but it is generally the case, is it not? This, by the way, is why the City was willing to put so much into the approval and the agreement.

    So as Garrett notes in his second comment, most of the ship had already sailed on GPL. The 5,000 or so units of housing are there as-of-right, assuming that the developer provides 20% inclusionary on their sites and a waterfront esplanade.

    From a policy perspective, the Levin agreement is actually very well done. It addresses specific needs for the north Greenpoint neighborhood, and it addresses some district-wide issues. It certainly doesn’t fix the 2005 zoning, and nor does it fix the broad issues created by the added density of the 2005 zoning and all the other development throughout Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

    Affordable housing – Again, this is mostly about building the affordable housing that the City promised in 2005, to the standards that the City committed to in 2005. In addition, the City (not the developer) has committed additional funds for the anti-displacement collaborative (of which NAG is a member). Displacement has been a major issue throughout CB1, and anything that we can do to keep long-term residents in their community is a plus. This funding ($500K) won’t solve the problem by a long shot, but it addresses a very real need.

    Transportation study – Again, this is a City funding commitment (Garrett misread the press release), and this is something that policy folks in the community have been clamoring for since before the 2005 rezoning (as Teresa – the study should be named in her honor). One of the big complaints about the 2005 rezoning is that was a lot of zoning and very little planning. We all knew that tens of thousands residents would have a huge impact on transportation and transit, and we have all been complaining about DOT’s piecemeal approach to transportation planning in North Brooklyn. This is a very big win for the whole North Brooklyn community.

    Other transportation – the shuttle buses and car-share facilities are nice things, but obviously don’t address the broad infrastructure issues that GPL and all of the other Greenpoint waterfront developments will create. But that just further shows why the transportation study is so important.

    Environmental – it is not clear in the release, but my understanding is that this agreement includes a substantial increase in DEC’s involvement in cleaning up Nuhart, both at the school site and on the surrounding streets/public areas. The language in the agreement came from environmental advocates far more qualified to comment than I am, and what I hear from them is that this is a very good thing (not perfect, but far better than what was out there as of a week ago).

    I think Garrett’s second comment is really spot on: “I’d like to add that I appreciate all the effort that Councilman Levin has put into trying to get a better deal for the community. This ship sailed in 2005 and now we’re just trying to mitigate its wake.” We are not going to fix the 2005 rezoning through GPL (or through 77 Commercial), but the GPL agreement is a very positive step forward in mitigating the wake of the rezoning.”

    Reply

  • City OKs Parts of Greenpoint Landing; Developer Will Give Millions to Park, School commented:

    […] organizations GWAPP and NAG both announced (a little begrudgingly) that they are in favor of the land use approvals […]

    Reply

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