Adams approves controversial Bushwick rezoning with conditions

By Janaki Chadha

05/31/18 08:04 PM EDT

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams weighed in on a controversial private rezoning application for Bushwick on Thursday, approving a proposal that would rezone manufacturing lots in the neighborhood and make way for two nine-story buildings — with conditions.

A recommendation on the plan released by Adams on Thursday says he “supports the intent of the proposed rezoning” but calls for greater affordability and more protections for area tenants and local businesses.

The plan, which would affect a nearly 63,000-square-foot area, has faced opposition from residents who say the proposal, as it currently stands, does not include enough affordable housing and would add to displacement pressures. City Council Member Rafael Espinal, who represents the area, joined advocates earlier this month at a rally in front of the site and called on the developer, Camber Property Group, to withdraw its application.

Opponents have also said the proposal is not in the spirit of the ongoing Bushwick neighborhood planning process, which began several years ago with the aim of creating a community-led rezoning proposal for the area that would prevent displacement and preserve neighborhood character.

Camber’s proposal would result in two buildings on a current parking lot at 1601 Dekalb Ave. and would yield a combined 122 housing units, approximately 31 of which would be affordable under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy.

Adams, who is a potential 2021 mayoral candidate, wrote in the recommendation that he is “committed to addressing the borough’s affordable housing crisis through the creation and preservation of needed affordable housing units for very low- to -middle-income Brooklynites” and that he “supports developments that provide housing opportunities to a diverse range of household incomes.”

He called for the developer to adopt an affordability option that would yield more units affordable to lower-income residents, to include more family-sized units and opportunities for seniors and to better address concerns that the plan could displace nearby loft tenants and a local boxing club, among other modifications.

Espinal said in a statement on the recommendation that, for now, he stands by his opposition to the project, but left the door open for negotiations with Camber.

“I haven’t had a chance to read through the Borough President’s report in detail, but my position still stands that there is a lot of work the developers still must do to meet the needs of the community and I look forward to working with all parties involved to make sure 1601 DeKalb will truly deliver for Bushwick,” he said.

Camber Property Group Principal Rick Gropper said in a statement: “We are encouraged by Borough President Adams’ thoughtful consideration of our project, which will bring much-needed affordable housing, local and MWBE hiring opportunities and good-paying union jobs to Bushwick. We look forward to working closely and productively with Council Member Espinal and the community as the public review process moves forward.”