Read Property Group is planning to build 977 rental housing units on land that was the former site of the Rheighold Brewery in Brooklyn, New York. The Brewery was demoloished in 1981 There are concerns about rents being raised and the ever so slowly decrease in park space in the town. Because of these concerns, a push for more community input is wanted by local officials and advocates.
“The developers should hear these questions,” said Community Board 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted at a hearing on the zoning changes on June 19. “Please understand that this project is very important to this board. We’re trying to shape the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
The Planning Board has a deadline of August 12, 2013 to submit a recommendation to the borough president after they receive more input from the community. The proposal then goes to the City Planning Commission, followed by the City Council. In order to build on this land, the lot must be rezoned from commercial to residential with a lighter focus on small industry parts.
The proposed construction on the 6.4 acre site, which would be completed by 2016, involves the construction of 10 buildings about 8 stories high with ground floor retail space. Of the 977 units, about 242 of them will be specifically for affordable housing. The representative of Read Property at the hearing, Jennifer Dickson of Herrick, Feinstein LLP, says the developers’ proposal utilizes unused space.
“They are more or less completely vacant,” she said in a telephone interview about the two industrial lots. “Our client has tried to provide something that is contextual, that fits into its surroundings,” (bkbureau.org). The criteria for this area to be defined as a potential redevelopment area is the following:
•B: The discontinuance of the use of buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing, or industrial purposes; the abandonment of such buildings; or the same being allowed to fall into so great a state of disrepair as to be untenantable.
•C: Land that is owned by the municipality, the county, a local housing authority, redevelopment agency or redevelopment entity, or unimproved vacant land that has remained so for a period of ten years prior to adoption of the resolution, and that by reason of its location, remoteness, lack of means of access to developed sections or portions of the municipality, or topography, or nature of the soil, is not likely to be developed through the instrumentality of private capital.
•E: A growing lack or total lack of proper utilization of areas caused by the condition of the title, diverse ownership of the real property therein or other conditions, resulting in a stagnant or not fully productive condition of land potentially useful and valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare.
Reyna feels that there will be “significant adverse impact” on the neighborhood open spaces with a limited amount of parks. There will be no parks being displaced in this redevelopment but the new ration of residents and works compared to the amount of open spaces will be much lower than before. There is hope within the plan to create a few parks in between the new constructed buildings.
“Census data cited in the environmental impact study shows that the area within a quarter-mile radius of the development has a median household income of $28,089, far below the Brooklyn average of $45,487. Yet the average monthly rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in Bushwick rose by almost 63 percent between 2006 and 2010, from about $800 to almost $1,300. The low-priced units at Rheingold would target households of up to 60 percent of the city’s adjusted median income (AMI), roughly $36,000 to $53,000. Dickson said at the board meeting that a one bedroom would have a rent of up to $1,067 a month and apartments for seniors would have lower rents,” (bkbureau.org)
The environmental impact statement reports no direct or indirect displacement of residents due to the new redevelopment The area is already experiencing an ongoing trend toward more expensive housing and a higher income population. The proposed plan would represent a continuation of the trend. Reyna does not agree with this conclusion. The speculation of new development is what pushes rents up and displaces people from the neighborhood, she says. “And that’s not a part of the report.”