Thursday, March 27, 2008

Toll Brothers Presenting Gowanus Vision Tonight

The Toll Brothers are coming. Well, not Bob Toll himself, but some company representatives (most likely Development VP David Von Sprecklesen) to make a presentation on the big and controversial proposal for housing on the Gowanus Canal. The presentation will be a committee of Community Board 6, which this week weighed in a with a long list of issues that it suggests be addressed in the environmental review of the development. Significantly, the Board identified a wide range of environmental issues on the property that weren't in a document prepared by the developer based on historic use of the property for the manufacture of lead-based paint and a number of oil-related uses. Here's what CB6 says about tonight's meeting:
Informational presentation by representative for Toll Brothers, Inc. of a pre-certified application, known as 363-365 Bond Street, that would allow the redevelopment of two blocks fronting on the Gowanus Canal including the block bounded by 2nd Street, the canal, 1st Street and Bond Street (Block 458, Lot 1) and part of the adjacent block bounded by Carroll Street, the canal, 1st Street and Bond Street (Block 452, Lot 1 and 15) with a mixed-use development. The proposed project would result in approximately 447 dwelling units, 1,500 gross square footage (gsf) of neighborhood retail space, 1,500 gsf of community facility space, 260 below-grade parking spaces and 0.6-acres of publicly accessible open space along the Gowanus Canal.
The meeting starts at 6PM and will take place in the auditorium at PS 32, which is located at 317 Hoyt Street.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

continued from " GL Analysis: Rezoning Weirdness on Grand Street"

Dear Not So Anonymous: I would hardly call most of the protestors developers. The occupations of people I know are; 1 architect and his 2 partners (small developers), 2 partners that own a local restaurant, 1 retired truck driver, 1 attorney, 1 graphic artist, 1 insurance & real estate broker that has developed two (2) lots over the past five years (OK, call me a developer, I like titles), 1 artist, 1 sculptor, 2 brothers hoping to open the restaurant of their dreams in their own property. Their community tenure ranges 3 to 47 years (most over 10). The area in question was rezoned in 2005, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on the Greenpoint Williamsburg Rezoning Study. Unfortunately, there was a provision in the R6 that allowed assemblages of land to use "Height Factor", an alternative that permits these towers. The only proposed sites are the 9 and 14 story towers on Grand and Driggs. Should a developer manage to convince a few owners to sell contiguous properties, only then could the developer pursue erecting a tower. In my and many professional opinions, there were at least 5 solutions that went ignored. 1) Notify property and business owners by mail of all meetings, let them know this will have an effect on them, not call it a misleading name, 2) Seek the creation of an X district that would eliminate or restrict the use "Height Factor" 3) Rezone to R6A on commercial corridors which allows the same front wall height as many of the existing buildings before the set-back 5) Leave the R6 and get stuck with a couple of towers and not deprive the vast majority of their due process.
One of the (if not the leading) local activists that owns a house and vacant lot across from the proposed towers, MIRACULOUSLY managed to avoid the rezoning! In fact there are three (3) 90 degree turns of rezoning, which SOMEHOW excluded the activist's property from the R6B rezoning à see map (, (see if you can figure which small area was skirted by on three sides)… An architect that owns a very tall building (with great top floor views) directly across from the proposed sites rallied for support from friends, neighbors, a not affected North Side community group, property and business owners (again, who did not know they were being affected! Is that not ironic that some of the same people fighting against the tower were actually hurting themselves without knowing it! And you have the audacity to say that fair notice was given?!?!?!? They needed their help to show the politicians that support for the rezoning was overwhelming, unanimous, and without opposition to help rein in the "Grand Street Rezoning" (ten other street names not included) and stop beastly towers to from upsetting the "neighborhood context". It was now supposedly all about the towers. The activist and architect and their significant others never disclosed to their unsuspecting supporters of how the rezoning would affect their very own property equity, land usage, businesses, and the viability of attracting new shops and services to the community residents. Meanwhile, THEY SPARED THEIR OWN PROPERTIES from taking the greatest hit of not having their precious views fractionally reduced! To top it off, the same leading activist whose property is MIRACULOUSLY excluded form the rezoning, who was present at a meeting the night prior to the council’s vote, refused to disclose her property location when prompted and then immediately went on to state “but I stand to lose more than any of you (referring to property owners.) In fact, the polar opposite is true. THE REZONING MAP CURVES, LITERALLY CURVES AROUND HER PROPERTY, SHE IS NOT EVEN AFFECTED!!! Was this the Judas Kiss? Ask.
Meetings were held at City Council's office, Borough Hall, on 2/19, 2/26, and 3/5. All proposals by the 14 story developer that went as far as scraping the tower for a 7 story building were opposed by these people and ultimately rejected.
Now twenty (20) new projects were issued stop work orders within hours of the Council Vote this past Wednesday, for not conforming to the new zoning. A few of the projects had already been put on hold voluntarily by the their own owner's that cited unavailable financing, weak market conditions, lost 421A benefits, increased code compliance costs, and a sharp increase in material prices. Now what remains are the enormous expenses to redesign, reengineer, extended carrying charges, and increased loans to pay for this. Some construction loans may get pulled due to the diminished project collateral. All may put some owners at risk of hardship, bankruptcy and possibly foreclosure.
In the end, the only ones that were "too blinded by dollar signs" were those that never warned us, masked the proposed zoning, and blatantly and with no regard betrayed all affected. However, they did offer comfort with these words "The kinder view is that all business ventures incur risks and zoning changes happen all the time. Some result in loss and some result in gain for property owners".
How was it made possible that all these property and business owners and their families never received not even one (1) letter of notice and effect. Not one (1) letter inviting them to express their position, no matter what it may have been. This and many more questions should be asked from all involved.

12:47 PM  

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