Pros & Cons of Changing the Rules for Industrial District
Promises are being made for a progressive development proposed for 25 Kent Avenue. The property is smack dab in the center of the Greenpoint Williamsburg IBZ (Industrial Business Zone) and Heritage Equity Partners is seeking special permission that would allow them to use almost all of their proposed eight-story building as office space, build up to six stories higher than the present zoning allows, and nix parking spaces and loading docks. The developer’s request comes with an offer to reserve 17 percent of the building for light manufacturing uses.
Developer Toby Moskovits, of Heritage Equity Partners, has her office on Driggs Avenue and states she’s the 3rd generation in her family to work in the neighborhood. Her experience in the area has shown her “a critical need for space for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in Brooklyn.”
There is concern that this form of progress could cast a long dark shadow. Leah Archibald, Executive Director of business advocacy group Evergreen, is excited about a prospect that won’t diminish manufacturing in the area, “There is a real upside to this, but it has to be done right,” said Archibald.
These concerns are based on the possibility of a precedent being set that would make it easier for other developers to do the same or inch further away from the industrial element. There are other apprehensions, one stemming from how to monitor and enforce the agreement once in effect, and another that focuses on parking, which is a key concern for local businesses, and the parking adjustment requested could exacerbate an existing problem in the area.
If this proposal is approved, the industrial proponents ask why not offer similar allowances, such as extending height restrictions, to businesses in the industrial area outside of the proposed area?
The approval process is estimated to last for seven months. Community Board 1 will vote on the plan the first week in March, and on March 21st there is a public hearing at Borough Hall. The city council will have the final say. If the city approves the proposal, the rendering in the picture should be a physical reality by the end of 2017.