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Land use process underway for River Ring proposal on Williamsburg waterfront

September 1, 2021 By Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The clock is now ticking on one of Brooklyn’s most ambitious waterfront development projects.

The River Ring proposal from Two Trees Management will take up two nights of discussions hosted by Brooklyn Community Board 1’s land use committee. The first meeting takes place Wednesday night at M.S. 126.

It won’t be the first time the community has weighed in on the rezoning project — the proposal was introduced to residents in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint area back in 2019 after shortly after Two Trees opened the neighboring Domino Park. The community board discussed the project again in April 2021, providing feedback ahead of a public scoping meeting by the city in April where testimony was broadly supportive of River Ring.

In addition to more than 1,000 new apartments — including 263 affordable units at 40 and 60 percent Area Media Income — Two Trees would commit to turning the underused industrial lot into 3 acres of public open space and 3 acres of protected in-water. Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees Management, said in a statement to Brooklyn Daily Eagle they have been working with the community over the last two years to shape the current proposal.

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Rendering courtesy of River Ring

“We heard loud and clear that our neighbors want to maximize affordable housing and open space on this underutilized site, and we have designed River Ring to do both, just as we did at Domino,” Walentas said in the statement. “As New York’s housing crisis grows and the impacts of climate change are felt around the world, we are eager to move this process forward and deliver River Ring as quickly as possible.”

In late August, a coalition of local grassroots organizations Los Sures, El Puente, and St. Nicks Alliance wrote a letter supporting Two Trees’ record and efforts with River Ring. The groups offered more recommendations to help address environmental justice needs and increase overall opportunity. Still, they wrote that they are “encouraged by the number of features proposed for the new development: local jobs, affordable housing, [a] new public park with water access and a new community recreation center.”

But the proposal has also been met with some opposition. The full community board will approve or disapprove the proposal on Sept. 14 before going to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ desk. However, earlier this year, concerns were raised on social media about some community board members who may have an economic interest in the application’s outcome.

A local group called Sustainable Williamsburg has also organized an online petition criticizing River Ring, expressing concerns about the height of the buildings and the added burden on the local infrastructure, including local transit impacts at the nearby L-train station at Bedford Avenue.

However, at a recent meeting organized by the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, an MTA representative said they had evaluated various development proposals in the Williamsburg area.

“In the case of River Ring, we haven’t found a negative impact,” said an MTA representative at the community briefing. “We’re very comfortable and confident with the conditions at Bedford and are very aware of the developments coming to the neighborhood.”

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