GWAPP OPPOSES ZONING TEXT AMENDMENTby on
GWAPP’s statement regarding the Department of City Planning’s proposal to alter the zoning for a nine-story, 480,000-square-foot office building at 25 Kent Avenue:
The almost impenetrably complex and technical language surrounding DCP’s (City Planning) proposal being considered by CB1’s Land Use Committee may obscure the fact that, if adopted, this text amendment could have far-reaching ramifications not only in North Brooklyn but for industrial areas across the City.
Basically, the proposal creates a handful of incentives to prompt developers to consider office space as an alternative to hotels and nightclubs – which have popped up (to put it mildly) in our IBZ’s (Industrial Business Zones – areas zoned to protect manufacturing/industrial businesses and jobs).
We join with Evergreen, GMDC, Pratt Center for Community Development and other organizations in our opposition to the proposal as currently framed.
Our objections include those of the groups concerned primarily with the proposal’s approach and lack of teeth to actually achieve what it purports to address but go further to reflect the community’s deep and well-deserved skepticism of any community benefit supposedly derived from zoning changes. Even more importantly, we object to the missed opportunity to connect this – and any zoning change – to the undelivered promises of the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning Agreement.
Briefly, these are the issues we feel the proposed text amendment fails to adequately (if at all) address:
Affordability: There are no mechanisms to ensure that the spaces within this Enhanced Business District would be affordable by the types of manufacturing (or those using office space for that matter) companies the IBZ was designed to attract and support.
Location of Manufacturing Space: We agree with Evergreen’s insistence “that the manufacturing space should be on the ground floor and visible to maintain the industrial character of the community, and to visually inform visitors and potential tenants that this is an industrial area.”
Enforcement: Many organizations critical of the proposal have pointed out that, without a specific mechanism (and the funding to sustain it), the resulting lack of monitoring and enforcement will mean that none of the complex and nuanced elements defining what developers can and can’t do will actually be applied.
Height and Bulk: We don’t see the value in a trade-off of “jobs” for increased height and bulk of buildings in our neighborhood. Building office space doesn’t create jobs. Businesses provide jobs and there’s no guarantee that, especially given the skyrocketing rates, businesses that could offer local residents employment would be able to afford to locate in this Enhanced Business District. On the other hand, it’s certain that developers will max out height and bulk on every possible building lot, further destroying the low-rise landscape that was so distinctive about North Brooklyn.
Community Benefits: We agree that many of the “community benefits” attached to the previous IBZ were of little actual use to the community but this proposal replaces those with elements like “public plazas” (incentivized by increased F.A.R.!) that are truly useless in maintaining quality of life in the neighborhood. The question of what the community gets from this (or any) adjustment in the zoning is very unclear – whereas, the benefits to developers lucky enough to own property in this small area are considerable and obvious. GWAPP supports Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park in calling for a moratorium on any discretionary land-use actions until the City delivers on the promises made to the community in the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning Agreement, especially, and for starters, the acquisition of the remaining 11 acres of the Bushwick Inlet Park.