Broadway Triangle: Stop ‘n’ Go

On Monday, the City Council approved the Broadway Triangle rezoning by a vote of 36 to 10, with 4 abstentions (Gotham Gazette and the Times both have excellent coverage of the vote and the process). The final agreement worked out by the council included an additional 10,000 square feet of public open space (at the cost of about 40 units of affordable housing), and vague promises to provide assistance to relocate businesses in the area. Also, Councilmember (and soon to be Public Advocate) was heard making noises about HPD’s process of sole-sourcing development rights here and elsewhere.

All of that is on top of the basic outlines of the plan that have been in place from the beginning – a substantial amount of affordable housing within a manageable and sustainable zoning envelope.

Proponents are citing a figure of 800+ plus units of affordable housing, while the opponents say that “much of the affordable housing… is not mandatory, but it is part of the city’s inclusionary housing program“. The truth lies somewhere in between. The number of units on city-owned sites is about 600 (and that is after the loss of 40 units for the additional open space). Those units are guaranteed to be affordable. The difference between 600 and 800 is the inclusionary housing program, and those units are not guaranteed. In fact, if the past any indication, it is likely that none of those additional will be built. But even if they are not, and the rest of the rezoning area is built out fully with market-rate units, this rezoning will still generate over 40% affordable housing.

Part of the reason the rezoning reaches that percentage (a number the entire community fought for in the 2005 waterfront rezoning) is that the overall zoning is contextual to the rest of the community. The R6A and R7A implemented as part of this rezoning does not seek to supersize development – it keeps development within a reasonable and sustainable density (again, something the entire community fought for in 2005).

But it’s not over yet.

The Observer was a tad premature in its assessment of the Council’s approval “seeming to conclude a saga over the large below-market rate housing site in Brooklyn that has been pushed relentlessly by Assemblyman Vito Lopez”.

That’s because last night, a judge “granted the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition’s application to halt implementation of the City’s controversial rezoning of the 30 acre Urban Renewal Area at the border of Williamsburg and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.”