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Developer Envisions Rare Offices in Industrial Williamsburg

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Developer Toby Moskovits has bigger visions for northern Williamsburg than a hotel with a bar in a water tower. Her firm, Heritage Equity Partners, has been buying up formerly industrial parcels in the area, and beyond Hotel Williamsburg, she is angling to put up a full square block of offices on Kent Avenue between North 12th and North 13th streets. One problem: the area is zoned for manufacturing use, one of the ways that the city has tried to preserve jobs in that sector despite Williamsburg's residential renaissance over the last decade. So, as the Journal reports, Moskovits will file for a special permit that would allow her to build the 400,000-square-foot office complex she envisions—"that one day could house 2,000 to 3,000 office workers and artisanal manufacturing workers"—with 20 percent of the space set for light manufacturing. It would, according to The Real Deal, be the first new office building in Williamsburg since the 1920s.

On the one hand, Moskovits's argument is strong: as opposed to being a neighborhood where many residents merely live while working in other areas, Williamsburg would be an ideal home to tech companies and other firms. Or, to put it another way, "a 24/7 destination," which city planners love.

On the other hand, manufacturing advocates say that allowing more office space would be counter to the purpose of the zoning, which is to preserve increasingly scarce manufacturing jobs. Moskovits has tried to stress the importance of the manufacturing component of her proposal, rendered above.

To play on the area's industrial character, the building, which encompasses a city block, would have an outdoor walkway running through the middle of the ground floor, allowing pedestrians to see workers inside. Approval for the special permit would have to come from both the City Planning Commission and the City Council. (It would also pave the way for other office buildings in the area, like the very-cantilevered 87 Wythe.)Demolition already started on the site in January, though, so Moskovits is either pretty confident or already has a back-up plan.
· In a Twist, Developer Envisions Offices—Not Apartments—for Williamsburg [WSJ]
· A Spec Office Building Signals W'burg's Transformation Into a 24-7 Destination [CO]
· Toby Moskovits lands loan for spec Brooklyn office building [TRD]
· Demo Starts for Block-Size Office Building on Kent in Williamsburg ['Stoner]
· How NYC's Decade of Rezoning Changed the City of Industry [Curbed]