Here’s another reason why the would-be developer of an 800-unit apartment complex on the South Williamsburg waterfront is so desperate to get his site’s zoning changed from manufacturing to residential: He’s belly up.
A bankruptcy court ruling shows that Isack Rosenberg — who owns the Kent Avenue lumber yard that he hopes to transform into the glittery “Rose Plaza on the River” — owes Capital One upwards of $50 million from an unrelated real estate project in Williamsburg. The bank holds the mortgage in a condominium venture referred to in court papers as the “McCaren [sic] Project.”
It is unclear where the project is and what payments Rosenberg failed to make that triggered his bankruptcy filing earlier this year.
By court order, Rosenberg has until Dec. 21 to pay off Capital One, either by selling the project or finding the cash by other means, according to the bankruptcy document.
As such, Rosenberg is trying to raise money by seeking a city rezoning of his lumber yard site from manufacturing to residential — a move that would vastly increase the property’s value.
Last week, Community Board 1 overwhelmingly rejected Rosenberg’s rezoning bid, complaining that only 20 percent of the 3.7-acre complex would be set aside as below-market-rate-housing. Members also complained that 95 percent of the units were smaller than three bedrooms, a particular affront to members of the Hasidic community, which tends to have large families.
That CB1 vote was not without its juicy backstory, however. Rosenberg is a member of the Aroni faction of the deeply riven Satmar community. A rival, Rabbi David Niederman, is not only a member of Community Board 1, but an influential rabbi in the Zali faction.
“These guys have been rivals for years,” said one Hasidic insider.
Neiderman has said that he rejected Rosenberg’s rezoning request on the merits, but he has supported similar rezonings with the same level of affordable housing in the past. And Niederman is an enthusiastic proponent of the 31-acre Broadway Triangle rezoning in East Williamsburg, a site at which his group, the United Jewish Organization, won the development rights in a controversial process earlier this year.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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