Brooklyn Boro

River Ring project begins City Planning review, gets conditional support of Borough President

October 7, 2021 By Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Two Trees’ ambitious River Ring proposal for the Williamsburg waterfront cleared important hurdles Wednesday, as city planners began deliberations on the project and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams expressed his office’s conditional support for its approval.

In a 26-page recommendation to the City Planning Commission released on Wednesday, the BP’s Office wrote that Adams supported the project due to its commitment to building permanently affordable residential space and its “innovative coastal flooding measures” as part of the proposal’s designs for resiliency and sustainability around the space.

The recommendations follow last week’s public hearing held by the BP’s Office and come on the heels of Community Board 1’s vote in support of the project last month. At the BP’s hearing, Bonnie Campbell of Two Trees Management expressed a commitment to be responsive and inclusive of the community board’s recommendations, with the sole exception of reducing the project’s size by a third. To do so, she said, would limit their ability to follow through with their other commitments and make the project economically unfeasible.

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If passed, River Ring would bring around 1,000 new homes to the Williamsburg waterfront with at least 263 units designated as affordable, along with a new YMCA facility on site. The project also incorporates a new public park space along the East River that would include natural habitat restorations and new resiliency designs to alleviate storm surges for the immediate community.

The Borough President’s Office also recognized that cutting the project’s density substantially would limit public benefits resulting from River Ring, including the possibility for more affordable units, but suggested consideration by the City Council to reduce the number of floors in one or both of the buildings proposed.

At Wednesday’s City Planning Commission hearing, some individuals pushed back on the idea of reducing the project’s size if it meant a reduction of overall apartments available.

Greenpoint resident Harrison Grinnan testified that the idea of a 33 percent reduction was “horrendous.”

“Those are 300 homes that this area needs and that the city needs,” Grinnan said, imploring the urgent need for more housing across the city. “This is how we start to get there, but we really need to ramp it up.”

Newly appointed City Planning Commission Chair Anita Laremont lauded Grinnan’s testimony.

“Much of what you said, we believe very fervently in City Planning,” Laremont said after thanking him. In total, 25 people testified during the public hearing on River Ring. All were supportive of Two Trees’ proposal and its design.

The commission now has 60 days to deliberate and vote on the testimony as well as the recommendations it received from both BP Adams’ Office and Community Board 1.

A path along the marsh in River Ring would allow people to get close to nature.

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