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New Zoning could Bring Large (and Affordable) Towers to Brooklyn Waterfront

With an okay by the City Council on May 11, industrial North Brooklyn will soon become the hub of a major redevelopment effort and possibly set a striking precedent in affordable housing.


The City's rezoning plan will allow residential and commercial development within 175 largely industrial blocks of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, adjoining neighborhoods whose manufacturing sectors have declined in recent decades. Those blocks are situated in a dense area, with diverse populations, that boasts dramatic views of Manhattan across the East River.

The current proposal includes 54 acres of parkland, including a waterfront esplanade, and 10,818 new units of housing, with a third of those affordable. If they provide the affordable units, developers would be permitted to build up to 35 stories (or, if not, only 23 stories). Fifty percent of those affordable units would be reserved for residents already living in the neighborhood.

Though some locals are concerned by the prospect of apartment towers looming over the much lower-density waterfront, most public officials have been enthusiastic about the plan.

Brooklyn City Councilman David Yassky declared: "For years, rezonings in New York City have left the development of neighborhoods to the market place. This rezoning is the largest commitment to affordable housing creation that the City has ever made in a rezoning plan."

Ilan Kayatsky