Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sunset Park to Get Eventual Rezone

Nobody particularly likes to focus on a rezoning discussion, but battles over the future of neighborhoods are won or lost during the rezoning process. Most of what comes later is simply fallout. So, we note with interest that Sunset Park, which is already feeling a lot of development pressure as building spills over from the South Slope, is about to go through a downzoning process like neighborhoods to the north. Local groups have been working for some time to convince the city to take a look at downzoning the neighborhood to protect it from out-of-scale development. But the fight over the proposed 12-story building on 42nd Street and the subsequent agreement to cut the height to six stories, looks like it has prompted action. There was a meeting in the neighborhood on Tuesday night attended by both Mayor Bloomberg and by City Planning Director Amanda Burden. Ms. Burden announed that a zoning study will be completed by the end of the year. Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights writes:
Great news indeed, and no doubt there were many factors that played into this decision. Of course CM Gonzalez's ongoing work and the emergence of SPAN and the successful fight against the 12 story 42nd street building (420 42nd St., now successfully cut in half) were two factors. Little known, however, was our "behind the scenes" advocacy efforts with City Planning directly (dating back to Nov. 2005), and our recent submission of a long list of out-of-scale development sites which highlighted the growing problem in Sunset Park...
What has ensued in other communities both before and immediately after downzoning, however, is a race by developers to try to start as many projects as possible under old zoning rules allowing taller buildings. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Sunset Park--which would seem to have bull's eye drawn over it by developers--in the extended process that would lead to rezoning. The history of recent rezonings in Brooklyn is that where there is a downzoning there is also an upzoning, so how the neighborhood boundaries are drawn will be critical. It's not hard to see an upzoning along a Sunset Park corridor to allow taller buildings as happened on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope.

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