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CB2: Rezoning is the elephant in the room in DUMBO

The Brooklyn Paper

A city plan to encourage residential development in parts of DUMBO was narrowly rejected by the neighborhood’s community board on Tuesday night.

By a 13-10 vote, Community Board 2 defeated a city rezoning that would allow old warehouses within a 12-block area manufacturing zone east of the Manhattan Bridge to be converted to residential apartments.

The proposal would limit new building heights to about 12 stories, but opponents said that even that height was too tall — and the board agreed.

The vote follows a split rejection by CB2’s Land Use Committee on March 18. That decision reflected substantial concern from residents, some of them members of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association, who said the Department of City Planning’s vision would overwhelm the enclave with bulky buildings.

“The proposed rezoning will create out-of-scale development in this part of DUMBO,” said Gus Sheha, vice president of the DNA.

The 12-story limit is significantly shorter than other recent additions to the hip, artsy district, such as the 31-floor, glassy J Condo at the corner of Jay and Front streets, and the 18-story Beacon Tower on York between Adams and Jay streets.

But there are several vacant lots and existing low-rise buildings that would be ripe for new development if the proposal becomes reality.

The board also noted another main complaint against the city’s plan, namely that a residential rezoning could expel artists from dual live-work studios, which are permitted on manufacturing parcels.

“[Rezoning] would push live-work spaces and the small manufacturing business out of the neighborhood,” Sheha said.

Other opponents said they were frustrated by a secretive process. For example, the city’s environmental impact statement for the rezoning claims that there’s sufficient capacity at area middle schools to handle an influx of students after the rezoning — yet the environmental impact statement prepared at about the same time for a controversial plan by Two Trees Management to build an 18-story building on nearby Dock Street claimed there was a shortage of middle school seats in the neighborhood.

The same firm wrote both studies.

Concerns aside, the neighborhood’s business group, the DUMBO Improvement District, said it supports the city’s plan because it would foster development and growth.

“It’s such a positive for DUMBO because it will add … more families and businesses,” Executive Director Kate Kerrigan said last month. “That will add more foot traffic — and that’s good for our local businesses.”

Updated 4:25 pm, April 9, 2009: Story was updated to include confusion about whether a middle school is needed in DUMBO.
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Reader Feedback

Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay says:
what the f is a new zoning zone?
April 8, 2009, 1:43 am
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
To Eazy D:

It was just a punny headline. Sorry if it didn't work for you.

GERSH KUNTZMAN
Editor
The Brooklyn Paper
April 8, 2009, 3:46 pm
bob from dumbo says:
why is it such a bad thing to have residental conversions from old factories. there is no longer any manufacturing in large scale left in ny or even in the country.everthing is coming in from over seas.let the landlord make living also buy making rentals for apartments.
April 12, 2009, 11:38 am
coby from dumbo from dumbo says:
Because it will killl the character of the neigboorhood. Granted there are more yuppies here than ever before, and the stroller invasion is getting close to park slope standards, but alot of us that live and work here appreciate the classic character and history of the neigboorhoods cobble streets warehouse lofts and environmental dynamic. Interestingly enough, I would assume that this is what all the rich people that moved here in the past 8 years were seeking too, but the direct effect of this influx combined with overzealous developers is the destruction of the neigboorhoods history and a proliferation of (...opinion alert...) reeeeally ugly cheap looking glass and faux-brick buildings.

The main point is that the rezoning could easily let Dumbo fall victim to what has happened on the lower east side. Right now we have a relative (I use that term loosely) balance between the creatives and the yuppies. More condos for the uber rich will suck the neighboorhood dry of all that its been known for and turn it into a kind of Bourguoise Sparta. ... creepy.
May 26, 2009, 8:17 pm

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