May 16, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
Members of the Brooklyn neighborhood group Sustainable Williamsburg—formerly Friends of the Northside Waterfront—announced their strong opposition to the prospect of a residential rezoning at the Con Edison site at Tuesday night’s Community Board 1.
The three parcel assemblage, located at 105 River St., between N 3rd Street and Metropolitan Avenue, is currently for sale and is zoned for manufacturing and commercial use. No applications have been filed with City Planning for a rezoning but Sustainable Williamsburg is trying to get out in front of the process to stop that from happening.
The property was listed for sale in April 2018 by commercial brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, which marketed the 3.2 acre assemblage as a unique site that could be the “last large-scale development opportunity on the water in the neighborhood.”
An open period for purchase bids closed last August. While a buyer has reportedly been found, the property is still listed for sale on the Con Edison website and no sale deed has been recorded with the New York City Department of Finance.
Cushman & Wakefield, did not respond to requests for comment.
With rumors swirling that the site’s future developers will be seeking a residential rezoning to build a waterfront tower, fears have grown that another large residential development would have a detrimental impact on the neighborhood’s overcrowded public transportation system and near-capacity schools.
“This issue is much larger than our small organization or the waterfront,” said a spokesperson for Sustainable Williamsburg at Tuesday night’s meeting. “It is ultimately about transportation. It is about the large-scale nature of the 2005 rezoning. I actually spent last night adding up all of the new developments that are coming on the waterfront. We’re only at about 6,000 [new units] now. We will have 18,000 new units on the waterfront alone, on a one-way street, with one major subway line.”
Members of the group, comprised of both Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents, say there has already been an alarming rate of displacement in the community due to skyrocketing housing costs.
Sustainable Williamsburg asked the board to keep the land under its current M3-1 zoning, which allows for retail, office and light manufacturing. The waterfront, the group says, needs to be balanced, and not entirely comprised of residential towers.
Benjamin Solotaire, North Brooklyn Community Organizer for Council Member Stephen Levin, says the Council Member is aware of the potential issue and will continue to work the with community on it.
“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of discussion about this over the coming years, but it’s going to be a while before it comes up,” Solotaire said. “We met with some residents of that area, the Council Member did, and he encouraged everybody to organize and obviously they have done that, so thank you for doing that.”
In March, Friends of the Northside Waterfront launched an online petition calling for the Community Board to reject any applications seeking a zoning change to the River Street site. The petition has garnered 1,525 signatures.