City Council Approves Rezoning for Mixed-Use Project on Wallabout Street in Brooklyn

Rendering of 74 Wallabout Street courtesy of Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC.

Developer asked the City to rezone manufacturing-zoned block in order to develop a seven-story building and a five-story extension for an adjacent religious school. On September 12, 2012 the City Council approved 74 Wallabout LLC’s proposal to demolish a low-rise warehouse building and build a seven-story mixed-use building at 74 Wallabout Street in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The warehouse sits on the western half of a block bounded by Wallabout Street, and Flushing, Franklin, and Kent Avenues. The Pointe Plaza Hotel (a converted industrial building) and the K-12 Yeshiva Bnos Ahavas Israel occupy the block’s western half. The new building will be 70 feet tall and include 120 rental units, 28,439 sq.ft. of ground floor retail space, and 60 underground parking spaces. 74 Wallabout LLC plans to make the apartments affordable to moderate income households. 74 Wallabout LLC also plans to sell a 5,000-square-foot portion of its property to the yeshiva, and build the school a 17,640-square-foot, five-story rear extension. To develop the project, 74 Wallabout LLC requested that the block be rezoned from M1-2 to R7-1 with a C1-5 commercial overlay.

At the City Planning Commission’s public hearing in June 2012, attorney Raymond Levin, representing 74 Wallabout LLC, explained that even though the developer would not rely on any form of subsidy to build the project, it was committed to making the apartments affordable to families earning 125 percent of the area median income. According to Levin, 74 Wallabout LLC intended to sell the property to the yeshiva for one dollar. Levin also confirmed that 74 Wallabout LLC intended to build the project using sustainable materials, although he could not provide specific details at the time. No one testified in opposition.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal, noting that the proposed R7-1 district would be an extension of R7-1 districts directly to the north and east of the project block. Noting that there had been a substantial increase in population in the area over the last twenty years, the Planning Commission found that the project would help alleviate the demand for new housing.

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee public hearing on September 6, 2012, local Council Member Stephen Levin supported the proposal, noting that in addition to creating new housing opportunities, the proposed extension to the yeshiva would help address the school’s overcrowding problem. Council Member Al Vann asked 74 Wallabout’s representatives if the project would include a community preference for the new housing. Gail Benjamin, Council’s land use director, interjected to explain that when housing is created using City, State or federal subsidies, the federal government can issue a waiver to the City permitting the developer to “positively” discriminate in favor of residents in the local community. Benjamin, however, noted that because there were no subsidies involved in the project, the developer would not be allowed to discriminate against people living outside the local community.

The Subcommittee unanimously approved the proposal, and the Land Use Committee and full Council followed suit.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: DCP, Neg Dec.
Comm. Bd.: BK 1, App’d, 35-0-0
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0
Council: App’d, 43-0-0

Council: Wallabout Street Rezoning (C 110390 ZMK – rezoning) (September 12, 2012) (Architect: Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC).

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