Friday, September 23, 2016
Simon Dushinsky's Rabsky Group has unveiled new plans for its megadevelopment on the old Pfizer factory site at 249 and 334 Wallabout St in Williamsburg. Currently zoned for industrial use, Rabsky wants the area (known as the Broadway Triangle) rezoned for residential development. Originally proposing 800 units, Rabsky now plans to develop 1,145 rental apartments in eight buildings over two blocks.
The buildings will have a maximum height of 14 stories and 140 feet. The new plans also feature 26k SF of public space, 405 parking spaces and 64k SF of retail, Brownstoner reports. Rabsky said the development will include affordable units under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law, although the percentage of affordable units depends on the City Council. Both the triangle and Rabsky have attracted controversies in the past.
Critics who want market-rate and affordable housing units on the site have argued many proposed rezonings discriminate against black and Hispanic communities and favor Hasidic Jews, pointing to the priority given to a Hasidic community board's district for the planned affordable units, selecting developers without a bidding process, and the preference towards shorter buildings with larger apartments to favor Hasidic families. (Hasidic Jews can't ride the elevator on Sabbath or need the elevator to stop on every floor so they don't have to press the buttons, making tall buildings impractical.)
These criticisms, in turn, have been accused of being anti-Semitic and in 2012, a judge stopped development on the sites, claiming the city violated the Fair Housing Act. Community groups continued to clash over the site before Rabsky bought the parcel in 2012 for $12.8M.
But the developer has been accused of reneging on promises to deliver affordable housing in exchange for a rezoning on Rheingold, another megaproject. Rabsky denies these claims. A public hearing took place last night for feedback on the plan's environmental impact statement, which addresses concerns over land use, shadows created by the new buildings, noise, construction impacts and hazardous materials.
Pfizer operated at the Williamsburg site from 1849 to 2007, and the manufacturing giant's 575k SF plant at 630 Flushing Ave was converted by Acumen Capital Partners into light industrial space that houses a fashion accelerator, small food businesses, furniture makers and Brooklyn Grange.
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