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A controversial three-tower residential complex along the South Williamsburg waterfront received its final approval from the City Council last week — a final rubber stamp that came only after the developer promised more below-market-rate units and larger apartments for Hasidic families.
The Council’s 47-1 vote last Wednesday allows Hasidic community leader Isack Rosenberg to convert his lumber yard on Kent Avenue into the 754-unit Rose Plaza — but the approval was also a significant victory for freshman Councilman Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg).
Levin opposed the project up to the last day, until Rosenberg committed to setting aside 30 percent of the project as “affordable housing” and configuring the project so that there would be 14 of the four-bedroom and 60 of the three-bedroom units that are so highly sought after by Hasidic Jews.
But after the vote, Levin refused to take credit for his behind-the-scenes battle with Rosenberg.
“I am proud that the communities I represent stood up … to demand a development that will benefit the community,” said Levin. “We are now guaranteed a development that will accommodate the Williamsburg community.”
The vote ends months of uncertainty for the plan, which was overwhelmingly rejected by Community Board 1 and also shot down by Borough President Markowitz before Levin’s negotiations. As a result, Markowitz and the community board now say they support the retooled project.
“We have achieved 30 percent affordable housing at an overall density and scale of development that is compatible with other waterfront rezonings in Greenpoint and Williamsburg,” said CB1 Land Use Committee Chairman Ward Dennis. “This is the balance that the community board has sought all along.”
The project, located at Kent and Division avenues, is a decade away from reality. Before anything can be built, the possibly toxic site may need to fully cleaned.
In the meantime, Rosenberg must find a financial partner to develop the property. It’s unclear who will be interested in partnering with a man who defaulted on a $50-million mortgage last year at a nearby development project.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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