Plans to rezone Bushwick are dead, for now

City
Hall says it’s halting plans to rezone Bushwick after years of
heated community planning. | Shutterstock

The city is shelving plans to rezone the Brooklyn
neighborhood

After years of community planning and at times heated
opposition, the de Blasio administration is shelving plans to
rezone 300 blocks of Bushwick, according to City Hall.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Been rejected a December request from local
officials urging the city to study the Bushwick Community Plan—a
four-year collaboration between residents, elected officials, and
city agencies to plan the Brooklyn neighborhood’s future—within
the environmental review process of City Hall’s separate rezoning
proposal. A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office says the
environmental review process will not move forward for either plan
for now, but that “the door is still open” if Bushwick
officials are willing to negotiate.

City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal, who
represent the area, said that a rezoning was dead in the water
without a commitment to study the community-driven plan. “This
has been a thresholds issue for us,” says Asher Freeman, the
legislative and land use director at Reynoso’s office. “And if
they’re not going to study the community plan, I don’t think
the city thought there is any point to moving forward with either
plan.”

Under the mayor’s Bushwick Neighborhood Plan, the Department
of City Planning projects Bushwick could accommodate 5,613 new
units of housing, including 1,873 permanently below-market-rate
homes. (The income levels for those apartments have yet to be
determined.) All told, the city estimates that nearly 18,000
residents and just over 6,000 workers would move into the
neighborhood over a 10-year period. That plan calls for more
density and mixed-use development on major thoroughfares. In
places, buildings could reach up to 16 stories, while some side
streets would see heights capped between three and four stories to
preserve neighborhood character.

The 74-page Bushwick Community Plan differs in key ways from the
city’s proposal, chiefly by calling for no more than 2,000
entirely affordable new units; the preservation of manufacturing
space; and the creation of new historic districts to limit
development. Those measures, community advocates argue, are key to
ensuring the neighborhood remains accessible for longtime
locals.

Bushwick is among the fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in New
York City with a 44 percent spike in average rent between 1990 and
2014, according to
a 2016 NYU Furman Center report
. Yet the neighborhood’s
residents earn significantly less than the citywide average. In
2017, Bushwick’s median household income was $51,622—about 17
percent less than the citywide median—and the poverty rate was 27
percent, compared to 18 percent citywide, Furman
Center data shows
. As of October 2019, the median asking rent
for Bushwick was $2,800, according to
StreetEasy
.

But the de Blasio administration is convinced that the
community’s blueprint is the wrong approach. In a January 10
letter, Been said she is “deeply concerned” by components of
the plan and called the approach “fundamentally a downzoning.”
The plan’s demands “run counter to the City’s goals of the
rezoning, which would be to encourage new mixed-income housing to
prevent displacement spurred by current market forces while
promoting a diverse, healthy and inclusive neighborhood and
city,” Been wrote.

In a statement, Reynoso and Espinal accused the de Blasio
administration of ignoring the needs of longtime residents and
saddling the neighborhood with outdated zoning as development
continues to sweep the area.

“The Mayor’s decision to walk away from Bushwick, continuing
the cycle of government neglect the neighborhood has suffered under
for the past 50 years, is shameful as it ignores the voice and will
of a community,” the lawmakers said. “Bushwick will continue to
fight for the resources it deserves, it’s what we’ve always had
to do.”

The de Blasio administration has rezoned six neighborhoods as
part of its goal to build or preserve 300,000 affordable homes by
2026. One of those, Inwood, ran into its own troubles last year
when
a judge halted those plans
; in the ruling, Hon. Verna L.
Saunders said the city “failed to take a hard look” at
community concerns.

Aside from Bushwick, the city has pending plans to rezone
Gowanus and is studying Southern Boulevard in the Bronx for a
potential rezoning; both efforts have faced fierce neighborhood
opposition.

Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
Plans to rezone Bushwick are dead, for now