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October 4, 2004

CONTACT: Rachaele Raynoff, Press Secretary -- (212) 720-3471


October 4, 2004 - Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Amanda M. Burden today announced the beginning of the formal public review process for the Bloomberg Administration's comprehensive plan for Greenpoint and Williamsburg, that will reclaim the waterfront and create 8,250 units of much needed housing. Carefully crafted to reflect the unique character of these neighborhoods, the proposal encompasses approximately 184 blocks, including a two-mile stretch of Brooklyn’s East River waterfront and adjoining neighborhoods. The proposed rezoning provides opportunities for the development of housing and neighborhood retail, the creation of much-needed public parks and waterfront open space, and reconnecting what has for too long been a derelict and inaccessible waterfront to the adjacent inland communities. This proposed rezoning responds to the communities’ long-standing desire to achieve access to and along the East River waterfront in areas abandoned by manufacturing uses and mostly underutilized.

"The rezoning of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg area marries the visionary and the practical – providing public access to a revitalized waterfront, which is made possible by City initiatives and private redevelopment for housing. The plan enhances Greenpoint and Williamsburg, which already have a distinctive character and vibrant cultural life, reinforcing their thriving mix of uses by allowing the coexistence of residences, commercial activity, and light industry." said City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden. "Another wonderful aspect of this redevelopment is that the community will design its waterfront esplanade to provide the form and function that it wants to achieve along its shoreline."

The detailed urban design plan proposed by the Bloomberg Administration envisions 49 acres of publicly accessible open space along the waterfront, including a continuous esplanade along two miles of East River waterfront. A new, 27.8-acre park between North 9th Street and the Bushwick Inlet would provide new recreational opportunities for the residents of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. DCP, with the Department of Parks and Recreation, filed an application for the mapping of this park on April 23. The park would encompass the Bayside Fuel site, the location of a proposed TransGas power plant. The City continues to vigorously oppose the plant proposal, which is before the State Siting Board, in favor of a waterfront park that would complement adjacent residential development.

The rezoning breaks new ground by establishing a Waterfront Access Plan (WAP) for the Greenpoint Williamsburg waterfront, developed in consultation with the Brooklyn Community Board 1 zoning task force. Under the WAP, new development would be required to provide links in a continuous waterfront walkway, sidewalks and streets connecting the waterfront to existing neighborhoods, and additional public spaces to complement existing parks on the waterfront. The plan also embraces NYC2012's Olympic bid plans for beach volleyball and aquatics venues between North 7th and North 14th Streets on the Williamsburg waterfront.

The proposed Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning calls for new housing in a variety of forms and heights along the waterfront to provide a compelling skyline, a sensitive transition to the adjoining neighborhoods, and a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. Further inland, the proposal includes a careful mix of zoning districts, which would allow these neighborhoods to fill in and grow at a scale consistent with their established character. The rezoning would also enable some 100 illegally converted loft buildings to be brought into compliance with residential safety codes.

In areas currently characterized by a mix of uses, the proposed zoning would permit a variety of residential, commercial, and light industrial activity, recognizing that Greenpoint-Williamsburg's vitality is grounded in these patterns. Areas containing concentrations of industrial facilities and jobs, including the Brooklyn Brewery, Acme Smoked Fish, and numerous other local businesses, would remain zoned for manufacturing, prohibiting new residences in these areas.

DCP has worked closely with Community Board 1, business, neighborhood and civic groups, as well as elected officials to understand their concerns and address their priorities in the plan. Among the important issues raised during development of the plan was the desire for measures to encourage the creation of affordable housing.

In addition to the financial programs included in HPD’s New Housing Marketplace, the environmental review includes analysis of an alternative for a voluntary inclusionary zoning program that would allow a floor area bonus for waterfront developments that provide affordable housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg. Combined with available city housing subsidies, this would lead to 10 percent of new residential units being affordable to low and moderate income households. DCP is continuing to work with Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation, as well as housing professionals and others to on strategies to spur further affordable housing development.

The project now goes to Community Board 1 for review, the next step in the city’s formal, seven-month public review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The Department of City Planning website contains more information on this project and the public review process.

City Planning
The Department of City Planning is responsible for the City's physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review; preparation of plans and policies; and provision of technical assistance and planning information to government agencies, public officials, and community boards.

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