CB1 ULURP Committee Less than Satisfied with Re-imagined Plan
At Tuesday night’s CB1 ULURP Committee meeting, Rose Plaza—a series of residential towers slated for the Southside waterfront—was once again on the chopping block, after the plans were first rejected nearly two years ago. After a nearly three-hour presentation followed by a discussion, the ULURP Committee voted, almost unanimously, to reject the plans, but to do so with a specific set of recommended modifications.
The Rose Plaza development, which would be constructed at 470-490 Kent Avenue, saught the approval of the ULURP Committee to seek a zoning variance in order to build six structures, three of which would be low-rise residential buildings with retail space on the ground floor, and three would be towers ranging from 18-25-29 stories. As the zoning stands now, the developers are only authorized to build a tower up to 185 feet, though they are now in the process of seeking permits that will allow them to build one 287-foot tower, and one 248-foot tower, purportedly to match the adjacent Shaffer Landing site.
According to the developers, building towers instead of smaller, shorter buildings along the waterfront would create more open space—some of which is slated for a public esplanade—as well as more dramatic views. Of the 801 units of housing that will be developed, 160 are slated to be affordable—20 per cent, which is the absolute minimum required.
“So, you are giving us the absolute minimum of affordable housing?” said ULURP Committee Chair Ward Dennis. “You really couldn’t give us any less if you wanted to.”
This sentiment was shared by nearly all voting ULURP Committee members, the majority of whom were unsatisfied with the presentation, believing that not only was it essentially the same plan that was presented in 2008, but still fails to provide necessary community incentives.
“In 2008, we made it very clear that 20 per cent isn’t enough. Now you’re back, with the same 20 per cent. Why should we take it now?” said Rabbi David Neiderman. “Also, it’s the plan is primarily for studios and 1 and 2 bedrooms. It’s not practical for families who need housing.”
“I don’t know if the community that is here now is getting anything out of this, like more affordable housing,” ULURP Committee Member Del Teague said. “I just don’t think they tried, and I can’t see any indication that they can’t do better than this.”
In response to the allegations that Rose Plaza does not provide adequate options for families who live in the neighborhood and in the community, one of the presenters simply replied, “the kind of housing you want to see here is not going to be created by private developers, especially private developers on the waterfront.”
Upon rejecting the plan in a vote of 8-1, with one abstention, some modifications recommended by the ULURP Committee included more affordable housing, funding to relocate any businesses that might be displaced or inconvenienced by the construction, a comprehensive traffic consultation along Kent Avenue, an environmental impact study of the waterfront. The plans will be presented to the full board during next month’s meeting.