Rose Plaza Not Dead (Yet)
Eliot Brown April 9, 2010, 11:28 a.m.
It seems Rose Plaza on the River, the controversial planned Williamsburg housing development just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, may actually live to see the light of day.
Earlier this week, all signs were pointing to a very rare defeat at the hands of the City Council for the 800-apartment, $410 million development planned for the site of Certified Lumber. The developer, Isack Rosenberg, had met resistance from the community over his plans, both from neighboring residents and from the dominant faction of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, with critics mostly calling for more affordable housing within the project . (More on the project and the Satmar split in a feature story I wrote last week.)
The councilman for the area, Steve Levin, showed little love for the project, so much so that the developers’ attorney appeared resigned to Mr. Levin’s opposition.
Multiple people involved with or familiar with the project had expected that it would be voted down Thursday at a scheduled vote by the land-use committee. But it seems things have changed, and now a vote has been pushed until at least Tuesday, as both the Council and the developer’s representatives negotiate.
The project’s new life came as Mr. Rosenberg started to scramble with defeat looming. In recent weeks, he brought on a slew of new consultants, a step unusual this late in the lengthy land-use approval process. These new consultants included two for public relations: Connelly & McLaughlin and Knickerbocker SKD, a political consulting firm used by Council Speaker Christine Quinn. He also brought on lobbyist Carl Andrews, a former state senator from Brooklyn.
And this week the developer unveiled multiple new offers to boost the amount of below-market-rate housing in the complex, first offering to set aside 25 percent of the units as below market rate, then boosting that to 28 percent in a public hearing on the issue on Wednesday. In private, the developer’s representatives began discussing boosting it again to 30 percent, according to multiple people familiar with talks. The developer has also proposed adding more four-bedroom units that are affordable, an issue for the Hasidic population given the traditionally large family sizes.
Although the vote is now scheduled for Tuesday, land-use issues are often pushed to the last possible day, which would seem to be Wednesday, just before the meeting of the full Council.
Mr. Levin declined to comment, as did a representative for Mr. Rosenberg.