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Eliot Spitzer’s Kent Avenue Development Advances, Waterfront Esplanade Likely to Open Next Month

420 Kent Avenue (via ODA Architecture)

Sept. 18, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A large scale development just south of the Williamsburg Bridge is inching closer to completion, with Eliot Spitzer, former New York Governor turned developer, making an appearance at Community Board 1 last night to provide more details on his project.

Spitzer, who now runs his family’s real estate company, Spitzer Enterprises, said his 420 Kent Avenue development is expected to be entirely completed some time next year, with the waterfront esplanade and one of the two buildings on site nearly wrapped up.

The two buildings (which look like three towers), have been under construction since 2016, and have a combined 857 units, of which 186 are affordable.

The project also features waterfront public access space that includes an esplanade connecting to an East River ferry stop, and a walkway connecting the inland to the waterfront.

Eliot Spitzer, former governor turned real estate developer, at last night’s Community Board 1 meeting. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Now that the north tower is set to be finished some time in October, and with the esplanade practically done, Spitzer is filing an application to allow for the first building to begin to be occupied sooner, and for the esplanade to open up to the public earlier as well.

Under city regulations, the towers can only begin to be occupied once the entire waterfront public access area is completed. But with the esplanade far more advanced than the walkway leading to it, and the south tower with months of construction left to go compared to the north, Spitzer is proposing for the remaining walkway work to be done in phases while construction carries on in the other building.

“Everyone gets the benefit of the park, the inclusionary units, the market rate units—everybody comes out happy,” Spitzer said. “The alternative is to have it sit there—nobody enjoys the park, housing sits empty.”

The walkway work would be completed in two phases. The first phase, to begin around late September and last for a couple of months until early 2019, would have a temporary walkway allowing for safe access to the waterfront and for building access to north tower residents.

The temporary walkway, seen from above, connecting to the completed esplanade at 420 Kent Avenue. (NYC Planning)

The second phase would have the temporary walkway moved to the middle until about April 2019, when the south tower and walkway are anticipated to be completed.

The temporary walkways would be outfitted with benches, lighting, plantings, and high decorated fences separating the public from construction equipment and work on the other sides.

Spitzer said the plan, once the authorization goes through, is for the esplanade to open up by next month. Plantings, however, will be put in after the esplanade opens, with the goal of finishing plantings before mid-November—when the Parks Department’s restriction on planting kicks in until the spring.

The application, while not under ULURP but referred to the community board for review per city regulation, was not voted on due to a lack of quorum, meaning the project is likely to get its authorization soon.

The development was first announced in 2014 after Spitzer—who resigned from the governor’s office in 2008 after being linked to a prostitution ring— purchased the property for $165 million.
The project site, located along Kent Avenue between Broadway and South 9th Street, spans 2.8 acres, and comes with a $700 million price tag. The development’s features include rooftop parks, pools, recreational spaces, and some retail space along the riverside.

One of the temporary pathways to the esplanade at 420 Kent Ave.

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