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Williamsburg's Pfizer-replacing megaproject needs more affordable housing, says borough president

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The eight-building project will bring over 1,100 apartments to Broadway Triangle

Via Department of City Planning

As the Rabsky Group’s plan to bring an eight-building development to the former Pfizer sites in Williamsburg moves forward through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is now weighing in with his recommendations, and they don’t bode so well for the developer.

As plans stand right now, Rabsky intends to bring eight new buildings to the Broadway Triangle area with 1,146 apartments, 287 of which will be affordable units. In addition, the megaproject will also create 65,000 square feet of retail, half an acre of public open space, and 405 parking spots.

In his recommendations, Adams has stressed on a greater degree of affordability, 21,300 square feet of additional affordable housing to be precise, and disapproved the project as it stands right now. Instead he has given a set of guidelines that the developers might adopt in order for this project to be beneficial to the entire community.

“Considering these land use applications have been about more than one site or project, it represents a chance to evaluate the direction of development in Williamsburg and ensure that we are creating opportunities for everyone to afford to raise healthy children and families in this neighborhood,” Adams said in a statement. “Any rezoning that the City grants must affirm the standard of diverse, not segregated, opportunity.”

In addition, Adams has specified that the additional affordable housing be offered at an average rent of 60 percent of the area median income. He furthermore requested that the developer clarify the different bedroom types within the affordable units, and give the greatest preference to one-bedroom apartments.

Here are some of his additional recommendations: To ensure that there’s a 50 percent preference on these affordable units for residents of Community Board 1 and 3, for the developer to make a contribution to the MTA to reopen an entrance on the G Train’s Flushing Avenue stop, at the intersection of Union Avenue and Walton Street, and to hire Brooklyn-based contractors for construction work.

Adams’ recommendations will be made available to the City Planning Commission when they bring this project up for discussion on July 26. Despite concerns from local residents about the developer’s affordability commitments, Community Board 1 has already voted in support of this project, and Rabsky is hoping to start construction in January 2018.

Community activist groups cheered on the Borough President’s verdict.

“We strongly feel that this plan should be rejected and sent back to the drawing board, Jesus Gonzalez and Rob Solano, the co-executive directors for Churches United for Fair Housing, said in a statement. “Any plan for construction at this site must recognize and work to address the longstanding history of segregation and discrimination in the Broadway Triangle and create housing that accommodates the needs of all community members in the Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg neighborhoods.”

Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that the Borough President had given his approval with conditions. In fact, the Borough President had rejected the proposal with conditions. Curbed regrets the error.