A new player is cashing in on the North Brooklyn building boom: the MTA.
The transit agency is moving ahead with plans to lease out one of its properties on the Greenpoint waterfront at 40 Quay Street to private real estate developer Gotham. Currently, the MTA uses the location to house its mobile and wash units.
When the MTA purchased the location in 1998, they did so for only $2.5 million. The agency estimates that Gotham will pay over $30 million for a 99-year lease on the property.
“This site is located in a neighborhood that has transformed from industrial to residential. A strategic review of MTA property has found this to be a valuable redevelopment opportunity,” said Robert Paley, MTA’s director of Transit Oriented Development at a public hearing on October 18. “This is a terrific site, we believe. It’s a neighborhood that has totally transformed and our current facility is not really appropriately located at this point.
“The developer has proposed significant community benefits if this site is rezoned, including enhanced waterfront access, affordable housing, and a permanent home for the Greenpoint Monitor Museum,” he added.
Gotham and the MTA are seeking a rezoning that will allow the developer to construct a mixed-use tower containing 900 new apartments. Current plans for the project designate a quarter of the apartments as affordable housing, with incomes averaging 60 percent of the area median income, approximately $64,500 for a family of four.
The development will also include a public waterfront walkway that will house a new, permanent Monitor Museum. The USS Monitor was a Civil Warp-era ship that was built in Greenpoint on the Bushwick Inlet.
The MTA is planning on using the money from the lease to fund future capital projects, including new station elevators and updating subway signalling systems.
Local residents and politicians argue that more high-rise development is not necessary in Greenpoint, and are fighting the MTA’s plan to lease the property.
“This narrow, ecologically sensitive strip of publicly owned land on Bushwick Inlet should be added to the long-promised park,” said Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher. “Mass transit’s long-term funding needs will be met by congestion pricing, federal and state investment, and robust ridership, not short-sighted real estate deals that undermine years of community work.”
Steve Chesler of Friends of Bushwick Park argued that park space would be more advantageous to the neighborhood than new developments.
“From a resiliency standpoint it would just make more sense to have some sort of natural defense there rather than building something that faces an existential threat of flooding on a regular basis,” he said.
Bushwick Inlet Park is a long-delayed project in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that was first conceived when the neighborhoods were rezoned in 2005. Since then, only 20 percent of the park has been constructed while much of the neighborhood’s other waterfront property has been developed.
“The population growth along the North Brooklyn waterfront initiated by the 2005 rezoning has exceeded the city’s estimates by historic proportions,” added Chesler. “Yet, the creation of Bushwick Inlet Park promised to help mitigate this new neighborhood density is happening at a snail’s pace. After 16 years and counting, only 8 acres out of 27 are built or in progress.”