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With both supporters and opponents waiting with bated breath, the controversial Dock Street DUMBO project is winding its way through the City Council for a final thumbs up or down under the city’s rezoning process.
The Two Trees Management proposal for the site calls for an 18−story building about 70 feet from the Brooklyn Bridge that includes a 300−seat middle school, 365 residential units including 20 percent for low−income families, ground−floor neighborhood retail and off−street parking.
The City Planning Commission recommended reducing the height to 170 feet from 183 feet, and the westernmost piece of the building on Water Street, which is to extend closer to the bridge and was proposed for nine stories, was reduced to 75 feet.
Thus far under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the project has divided the community.
On one side is such pro−development organizations as the DUMBO Business Improvement District and City Councilmember Letitia James, who like the school and affordable housing included in the plan.
On the other side is the DUMBO Neighborhood Association (DNA), City Councilmember David Yassky and a slew of celebrities have argued against it because of its proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Meanwhile, the council’s Land Use subcommittee had a five−hour hearing that included allegations, including some internal email evidence that opponents pounced on as proof that the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) improperly colluded with Two Trees.
“There was deliberate misrepresentation as to the appropriateness of communication between the developer and SCA, the vetting process for school selection and the objectivity and thoroughness of the consideration of other proposed sites aside from Dock Street,” said DNA President Gus Sheha.
“We will be asking the Department of Investigations to conduct a thorough analysis and urge the City Council to oppose the go−ahead of Dock Street until this investigation is conducted and has been concluded,” he added.
But Jed Walentas, the principal of Two Trees, said he was strongly encouraged by the City Council’s hearing, in which supporters outnumbered opponents and spoke passionately for the project.
“We look forward to the City Council’s recognition that Dock Street DUMBO will bring a much−needed middle school, affordable housing and a great building to the Brooklyn community,” he said.
Andrew Doba, spokesperson for Council Speaker Christine Quinn, said there will be one more hearing before the issue goes before the full Land Use Committee for a vote.
The second hearing is not set yet, but should be in a few weeks, he said.
Doba said the council could approve, reject or make changes to the proposal.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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