Wallabout Rezoning Stymies Tower Development

Wallabout is high over low-rise rezone victory
Friday, July 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

The City Council has dealt a blow to high-rise towers threatening brownstone blocks in north Brooklyn.

Wallabout residents, in particular, were jubilant that the Council approved new zoning that will preserve low-rise blocks there and in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill as well.

“We had a big celebration,” said Wallabout resident Jane Zusi, 44, who had fought a high-rise planned for 163 Washington Ave. “We drank a lot in my backyard and ate Junior’s cheesecake.”

The speed with which the city acted may have ended plans for the 16-story building there.

The Buildings Department halted work on the Washington Ave. property Wednesday, the same day the rezoning was approved.

“I wanted to save the architectural gems and exquisite properties in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill,” said Councilwoman Letitia James (WFP-Fort Green), credited with making sure the normal seven-month city review process was condensed to just longer than three months.

The 99-block rezoning allows for high-rise development along the area’s commercial strips, and offers incentives to developers who include affordable housing.

The fate of other planned towers remained in doubt.

Buildings had yet to rule yesterday on whether projects at 99 Grand Ave. and 120Adelphi St. would be grandfathered in under the old zoning and allowed to rise to 11 stories.

Neighbors were less certain about their victory over these buildings, but said they were looking for ways to fight, nonetheless.

“These people should not be building under the old zoning. They should be forced to comply with the new zoning,” said Enid Braun, 57.

But Antonio Calvo, owner of 120 Adelphi St., said he thought the rezoning should have allowed for more development in Wallabout between Myrtle and Park Aves.

“I have been a responsible developer – always respecting the architectural aspects of the community,” he said, promising to build something unlike Fort Greene’s sleek Greene House condo building that kick-started the community efforts to rezone.

In particular, there will be no glass and aluminum, he said, adding that he plans to move into a duplex in the building if it’s approved.

Posted Under: Brooklyn, Downzoning, Wallabout

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