Dock Street Gets Committee Approval
June 4th, 2009
In a rare break from business as usual at the City Council, the Land Use Committee approved a mixed use development project in Dumbo this afternoon, which the local councilmember opposes.
Councilmember David Yassky, along with many other Dumbo residents, oppose the project, because they say it will taint the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and block the view of Manhattan for nearby residents. Support for the project, otherwise known as Dock Street Dumbo, is hinged on a guarantee from the developer to build a school on the site. The city will pay $1 dollar for the school property, but it has budgeted $42 million for its construction. The project will include 325 apartments — 65 will be affordable housing.
The City Council typically defers to the local member for how to vote on a land use item. In this case, Yassky opposes the project, while Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports it.
“The experience of walking over, driving over and biking over the Brooklyn Bridge will be changed,” said Yassky before today’s vote. “Might you regret approving this application? You might. I might bet that you will.”
The Land Use Committee approved the project by a vote of 17 to 4, with council members Eric Gioia, John Liu, Tony Avella and Charles Barron dissenting. Yassky is not a member of the committee.
Gioia and Yassky both questioned whether the city’s School Construction Authority, which determines where schools are built, gave preferential treatment to the developers, Two Trees Management, in order to give them an edge in the approval process. At today’s meeting, Gioia read aloud from an email, obtained through a freedom of information law request, between authority officials, which said the authority had no plans to construct schools in that area of Brooklyn, but should follow up on the construction of a school in the development so officials could say that the project “is such a good deal.”
Following the vote, Yassky suggested that the deal be investigated.
Those that supported the project said the property owner has a right to develop the area and could build a structure that is larger and denser than the one they have proposed, according to the area’s zoning.
“The minute somebody is building something nearby when it affects them personally, and I’m the same way, suddenly the bridge’s view is an issue,” said Councilmember Simcha Fedler, who voted for the project. “If it’s somebody who is living 10 blocks away, the view is not such a problem.”
The project will head to the full council next week.By Courtney Gross on June 4, 2009, 3:17 pm
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