Disputed loft application withdrawn

Council Member Reyna raised concerns over loss of light industrial space. On March 20, 2008, Gerald Goldman, the owner of a former factory building at 70 Wyckoff Avenue, filed a motion to withdraw his application to rezone a four-story, 62,000- square-foot commercial loft building for residential use.

Goldman had originally sought to rezone ten lots on Wyckoff Avenue between Suydam Street and Dekalb Avenue, from M1-1 to R6, in order to legalize 70 Wyckoff’s current use. Brooklyn Community Board 4, the Brooklyn Borough President, and the Planning Commission approved the application.

At the Zoning & Franchises subcommittee’s hearing on March 19th, Richard Bass, a real estate analyst from the law firm Herrick Feinstein LLP, testified in support of Goldman. Bass stated that Goldman purchased the building in 1998 when it was partially occupied by light industrial tenants. In 2001, Goldman renovated the building into 51 commercial lofts and leased them to commercial tenants. After discovering that some of his tenants were residing in the lofts, Goldman sought advice from the Department of City Planning and BSA, both of which advised him to seek a rezoning, rather than a variance, for reasons of public policy.

Bass pointed out that Goldman had proposed certain community benefits, such as offering local residents the right of first refusal on units as they became vacant. Five of the building’s tenants, including a music composer and a painter, also testified in support of the application and expressed their concern that Council’s rejection of the application could lead to their eviction. The East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corp., however, opposed the rezoning and argued that it would eliminate manufacturing space from North Brooklyn, which relies on industrial and manufacturing jobs to support 40 percent of its residents.

Council Member Diana Reyna, whose district includes Bushwick, noted that she currently had many constituents actively looking for light industrial space. Reyna further stated that while Goldman did everything possible to avoid putting his tenants at risk, he “still broke the law.” The following day, Council Member Tony Avella, Chair of the subcommittee, announced that Goldman had filed a motion to withdraw his application. The subcommittee unanimously approved the motion. The full Council voted to approve the motion to withdraw on March 26, 2008.

Council: 70 Wyckoff Avenue (Mar. 19, 2008).

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