City’s Bushwick Rezoning Plan Unveiled

(Photo by Sadef Ali Kully)

New York City presented its plan for the rezoning of Bushwick at a community board meeting Tuesday night, and the reception was decidedly mixed. Paul Stremple reports in Brooklyn Daily Eagle that…

Aspects of the plan, especially regarding affordable housing and increased density, were met with contention from some attendees. Opponents of the plan repeatedly interrupted the meeting with comments like “affordable to who?” After a presentation that lasted roughly 45 minutes, city representatives fielded only a couple questions before the meeting was adjourned and attendees were told to leave as the lights flicked on and off.

Residents, community leaders and local politicians spent the last four years developing a Bushwick Community Plan, and the NYC Department of City Planning plan is a response to that. Stremple writes:

According to DCP representatives, the new zoning laws in Bushwick would preserve height requirements on 70% of residential side streets, ensuring buildings line up with current construction to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

On the other hand, the DCP plans to allow for 16-story residential and commercial mixed-use buildings along Broadway, while Myrtle Avenue would see potential 13-story developments. Other neighborhood corridors, like Central and Wilson, would see “modest” density increases, according to the DCP presentation.

These new high-density buildings, clustered around transit hubs, would include requirements for a certain percentage of affordable units. But critics of the plan say these requirements don’t create enough units, and that any housing that will be created remains too expensive for the Bushwick community.

Bklyner’s Aditi Shrikant also attended the community board meeting, and noted that City Council member Antonio Reynoso, who represents Bushwick and was involved in the community plan, said that the city’s plan “fell short.”

Reynoso adds that many of the programs presented as part of the city’s plan to preserve Bushwick are already in existence, and the city shouldn’t “sell them back to the community” as a unique effort meant to help this specific neighborhood.

But, he still believes in the plan and is hoping that if passed, it will be a version closer to the original BCP. “If we didn’t have this process, I can only imagine how much worse it would have been,” Reynoso said.

Sadef Ali Kully, writing in City Limits, reports that “many are skeptical about the [DCP] plan working for their community.”

Martha Brown, Land Use Committee Chair for Community Board 4, said that in her 25 years in the community she has not seen opportunities for affordable housing for low-income households, “So this affordable housing you are speaking of is a dream and you gotta make $72,000 a year just to get a studio deal in the neighborhood,” she said.

And Alex Fennell, network director of Churches United For Fair Housing (CUFFH) and member of the Bushwick Community Plan steering committee, told City Limits that the city’s plan included many more units.

“So I think that what we’re going to see at the end … is tons of luxury residential and office space rather than the industrial jobs that the Bushwick community plan has been advocating for throughout this entire process,” said Fennell.

Go to City Limits to read what other community activitists had to say about both the number of housing units envisioned and their affordability.

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