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Waterfront Rezoning in Brooklyn Proceeds

greenpoint williamsburg waterfront crumbling

For more than a century, the people of New York have been estranged from much of their waterfront. Industrial development and shipping took priority over sunny strolls along the water’s edge. Currently, a rezoning proposal is pending for almost one-fifth of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods. Within sight is the historic opportunity to rezone vacant and decaying waterfront lots to create much needed housing and a waterfront esplanade that would stretch for 1.6 miles — a distance equivalent to that between Canal Street and 34th Street in Manhattan.

While the objectives of the proposal by the Department of City Planning evolved from the communities’ own vision for the area — expressed in two 197-a plans passed by the City Council — both the local community and the Municipal Art Society have expressed reservations about certain aspects of the city’s proposal.

Of particular concern: strategies for achieving affordable housing, the potential displacement of industrial companies, access and programming limitations for the waterfront features if they are built by private developers, and the height and bulk of the proposed towers adjacent to the waterfront, which may rise up to 350 feet under the city’s proposal.

Working together with the city, the local communities and other civic organizations, the MAS is actively seeking solutions to these concerns before the land use approval process concludes in April.

The broader issues of land use, historic preservation and redevelopment along both sides of the East River will be addressed during the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s 2005 East River Campaign. This year-long series of exhibitions, lectures and programs will begin with the show Changing Tides at the Urban Center on January 25.