City Council passes Dock Street 39-9


((Revised Dock St rendering, post-DCP amendments))

((Click here for a downloadable PDF of the revised renderings.))


We’re live-blogging, sort of, the Dock Street DUMBO vote before City Council this afternoon. The full Council just voted 39-9 in support of the project, with the no-votes from Councilmembers Tony Avella, Charles Barron, Bill DeBlasio, Vincent Gentile, Eric Gioia, John Liu, Peter Vallone, and, of course, David Yassky. The vote itself was for the necessary rezoning that the developer, Two Trees Management, needs to build its 17-story residential tower in DUMBO.

More quotes from dissenting voters, comments, and reactions forthcoming, including transcripts from Council members for and against the project. (Update 5:17 pm: Those quotes are now at the bottom of this post!)

In the meantime, here are initial reactions from Walentas, Yassky, and the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance:

Yassky, immediately post-vote:

“I”m disappointed that the City Council made a bad decision. I guess I hope — maybe it’s foolish, but I would still hope that the property owner sees the broader public interest in protecting the Brooklyn Bridge and doesn’t change the views as you walk over the bridge.”

And DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance President Gus Sheha, who strongly opposes the project, just sent out his lengthy statement, printed here in its entirety:

“Today, the 2009 New York City Council, signed the deed allowing the sale of one of the most identifiable national landmarks and one of the most striking man-made structures in the history of the Unites States of America, the Brooklyn Bridge.”

“Those who have fought hard to oppose the Dock Street development are disenchanted and disenfranchised by our elected officials, who after wide-spread opposition to this zoning change, which included 25,000+ signatures and postcards, 8 neighborhood organizations, the National Trust, the Municipal Art Society, the Historic Districts Council, Architecture Society of New York City, the Roebling Society – Chapter for Industrial Archeology, the American History Museum of the Smithsonian, Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, cinematographer Ken Burns, the Roebling Family and more, the “will of the people” was disregarded. Community and civic mobilization, always promoted by elected officials as a way for communities to be heard, was completely ignored.”

“It is clear that ‘the fix’ was indeed in long before the ULURP process began, an insult to all law abiding, tax paying, community promoting citizens of not only our city, but our country. The pay-to-play politics, conflicts of interest and special interests infiltrating our halls of local government are the reasons behind the public’s disinterest and apathy towards our politicians and government. Moreover, the apparent collusion and corruption with the developer of city agencies, sworn to protect the interests of the tax paying public, are nothing but favor dolling machines with very little public integrity.”

“Mr. McCullough, in describing the Brooklyn Bridge, has poetically stated, ‘None of us had a hand in building it. None of us contributed a thing to its architectural grandeur or its pioneering technology. None of us were injured in the effort, or suffered from the bends for our labors beneath the river, or died in accidents. They did all that, those men and women of that vanished time. And they built superbly. They set an example of how things can be done right.’ Today let it be told, the New York City Council did everything but set an example on how things can be done right. We’d like to commend council members Avella, Barron, DeBlasio, Gentile, Gerson, Gioia, Liu, Vallone and Yassky for taking a stand and showing the rest of council what doing the right thing is all about.”

“To our members, neighbors and admirers of the Brooklyn Bridge, far and wide, we assure you that our fight against Dock Street does not end here. As stewards of the Brooklyn Bridge, we are exploring various legal and governmental investigatory actions to counter the assault committed by Two Trees Management, aided and abetted by City Council, on our cultural heritage and history.”

Developer Jed Walentas, through his spokeswoman Barbara Wagner, fired off the following statement literally moments after the vote:

“We are grateful for today’s vote by the City Council approving Dock Street Dumbo and want to thank all the Council members for their careful deliberations and support. Two Trees is both honored and proud to be able to provide the community with a new middle school, affordable housing and a thoughtful, environmentally friendly green building that will add to the vibrant, historic waterfront neighborhood of DUMBO.”

Comments from Council members for and against the rezoning proposal and project itself, as transcribed before each member’s vote:

Charles Barron (D-Canarsie):

“The 80-20 formula to me is not affordable, to me development should pay more and do more with affordability. The debate was reduced to someone wanting a better view of the Brooklyn Bridge and affordable housing.”

David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights):

“When I think about what’s at stake in this application is the Verizon Building on the New York side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Any of us who have walked over toward Manhattan know that the experience of the bridge is marred by the presence of a big ugly bldg that’s right in your view.

“I’m not saying the building proposed here will be as unattractive or as devastating as that building, but when you have one of the armful of treasures in the entire city that is the experience of walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, I think it would just be a mistake to tamper with it in any way and for that reason I am opposed to this.”

Letitia James, D-Fort Greene:

“I urge my colleagues to vote in support of the Dock Street project because it holds the promise of hundreds of new middle school seats in for children in Downtown Brooklyn, proposed to build 300 seat in a privately funded, “green” LEED-certified building that will also create DUMBO’s first very affordable housing. The developer plans to donate a significant portion of the cost of the city as well, worth over $40 million. Further, he has already reached out to surrounding community regarding job opportunities for women and minority businesses.

“The Dock Street project is exactly the kind of smart, innovative, carefully-crafted and planned partnership that the future of this city needs, particularly at this time of challenging fiscal needs.

“I’m also well aware of the concerns by some project opponents to proximity to the Bridge, so I took the time to walk the neighborhood. I concluded quite comfortably that Dock Street DUMBO does not pose any kind of threat to the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a position clearly shared by the local community board and city planning commission, along with numerous design professionals, and area parents and others throughout the neighborhood.”

Melinda Katz, D-Queens

“…The [land use] committee voted overwhelmingly in the majority to pass this project. The community board in this community voted overwhelmingly in favor of this project. And I just want to point out right now, in the worse recession that we have seen in decades, economic development and smart projects going forward are going to be the key for the future of this city.

“Moreover, the fact that we are building a school to educate the future of our city and that folks can go there from all over the community is an extremely important aspect of this project that cannot be underestimated, so the land use committee voted in favor if it. I urge my colleagues to vote in this project — it is the right thing to do for the future of this city.”

Bill DeBlasio, D-Park Slope:

“I respect those who disagree with my position in opposition to this plan, but many of our neighborhoods desperately need more affordable housing and classroom space. But, as the proposed development for Dock Street currently stands, I’m not convinced it’s the best or more appropriate way and we must insure that no development project compromises the Brooklyn Bridge. For those reason I vote no.”

Vincent Gentile, D-Bay Ridge:

“I just want to say that the Brooklyn Bridge should never be compromised or overshadowed and there are other resolutions to the issues at hand.”

Larry Seabrook, D-Bronx:

“A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to take a fieldtrip to Brookyn and to see this area that we’re talking about in the DUMBO area. I had not been to area since 1975 … and I was amazed and very pleased to see the development that had taken place there.

I was able to see that the magnificent bridge and the historical site that is there … and I had that opportunity to see what I was actually voting for and to see what could happen. I think that the bridge will maintain all of its integrities and historical aspects based upon what I saw and based upon what I could visualize, from not an architectural point but just visually. The school I think will provide a tremendous opportunity for a well-diverse population that could be there along with the affordable housing that could actually take place.

“It’s a beautiful place for people to be and I think that it would be something that would be very important to have — new housing and the diversity and the school there and I will be casting my vote in the affirmative.”

Peter Vallone, D-Queens:

“I do not believe that anything should be build next to the Brooklyn Bridge that’s higher than the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. We would not allow skyscraper next to the statue of liberty and we should not allow this.”

The project, as it stands following amendments from Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Department of City Planning, would rise 17 stories, have 300 residential units, and offer the city a 45,000-square-foot shell for a school. Last week, the Council’s Land Use committee passed the proposal 17-4. Today’s vote signals the end of the city’s public review process for al rezoning applications that was kick-started in January when Community Board 2 first passed the proposal 30-7. Its only flat-out rejection, voting wise, was at CB2’s land use committee, where members voted 7-6 to reject the proposal.

Here are links to other media hits from today’s vote: Brooklyn Paper, New York Times City Room blog, and Crain’s. More to come.

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  • No2Walentas2Trees


    Petitions, and neighborhood associations are proof enough. You are in a minority view. CB2 is an unelected body. If the opposition had the money and donated to ‘re-election’ campaigns, and won, you would cry foul. Truth is, they don’t care about your opinion. It was never in consideration. “The greater Good?” That excuse was used to build love canal, three mile island,etc.

  • SaveTheBridge

    Oh and might I add Fisher even added the patina of righteousness and “public interest” to this development travesty for both himself and the crude Walentases as well no less. Bullshitting with style and grace. I give him that, he really knows how to work both the system and the gullible.

  • Troubled Reader

    What is going to happen to St. Ann’s Warehouse?

  • No2Walentas2Trees

    Fisher, sheister of the year!

  • LC

    Can someone please explain to me what views are being destroyed, or how this building diminishes the bridge? I’ve walked over the bridge, driven over the bridge, gazed at the bridge from the promenade, the park in dumbo, the south street seaport and cruise ships on the river, all on multiple occasions. To me when I’m looking AT the bridge, I’m admiring the two towers and the beautiful way it spans the river. When I’m approaching the towers when walking, the towers are pretty much all I can focus on, with the occasional nod towards Governor’s Island and the Harbor. When I’m approaching either shore my gaze turns to the fascinating skyline of Manhattan or the old warehouses of Dumbo. As long as the building fits in with the other buildings in Dumbo, I don’t see how any of these views are diminished one bit.

    When you’re standing on the promenade or in the park you look west, not back towards Dock St!

    To me the argument that this development will ruin the bridge is a specious argument meant to distract from the typical NIMBYism that was behind the whole cause.

  • No2Walentas2Trees

    LC, next time you walk on the bridge, attempt to see the site from the promenade of the bridge. YOU CAN’T SEE IT! Which means it is too close, now image a WALL blocking your view.

  • endeavorm

    Hey Frnkln, are you suggesting that being close the bridge is a health hazard and is danger to my life?

    Now you have my attention!

    Should I stop walking over it for fear of lead poisoning?

    Should I sell and move away as my apartments is close by and the air is toxic?

    How far from the bridge should I stay?

    Should I even drive over it as I try to get outta dodge?

    Should we not petition Obama to have the bridge declared a “toxic brownfield” ?

    Better yet, should all of Dumbo be razed and carted off to some landfill as it has been polluted all these years by the bridge?

    Who knew?

    Who have been covering this issue up?

    I want names damn it! They need to pay for their crimes.

    Also, looking at your other posts…

    Should I be afraid “Flash Floods” will wash me away as I am in a Flood Zone?

    Should we all move?

    Will my kids be drowned in the new school as no one will know a flood is coming?

    Or will the bureaucrats just not tell us its coming so we can be washed away? Thus, making way for some new development they can line their pockets with? Bastards!

    Your advise please on what my next steps should be.

    Oh, and thanks for staying on top of the current issues for us. Where would we be without you?

  • endeavorm

    Sorry cut and paste error…The above should have been addressed to No2Walentas2Trees. sorry Frnkln for the mixup.

  • LC


    What view, exactly, am I losing? By the time I pass the tower on the Brooklyn side all I care about generally is getting off the bridge. Pretty much the rest of the time, I’m looking at the bridge or towards manhattan. Looking at one building instead of another as I seek out the first exit really has little effect on my perception of the bridge.

    Your arguments are filled with false hyperbole. It’s not going to be a “Wall.” What value is it to the developers if you build condos with the potential for great views without nice big windows? What value is it to developers if the views are completely blocked by the bridge? I’m sorry, I just don’t think this is that big of a deal.

  • No2Walentas2Trees

    Well, time will tell. When I bike ride down the walkway to Brooklyn, I enjoy seeing DUMBO in it’s glory…Now I will look at a box. Simple. But art is in the eye of the beholder, and I am sure you are fine with paint by numbers.

    The danger is from underneath the bridge, nice way of dodging the argument.

    Should you move? Yes, If you can’t appreciate what makes DUMBO nice, leave. It was better with the crackheads.

  • nabeguy

    Carlo, you’ve been a worthy opponent and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to spar with you. I truly hope your optimism for the future of this project is fulfilled. Personally, I don’t think the SCA or DOE gives a hoot about public input when it comes to their agenda, but maybe that’s just the cynic (or realist) in me. I hope you’ll excuse some of my more vituperative posts…what can I say? I’m a Brooklyn boy. Like Luca.
    Frnkln, as a Dumbo resident, let me ask you a question. Have you checked your windowsills lately? Every other Dumbo resident I know complains about the amount of
    “dust” that ends up on their own. Perhaps the EPA studies should start outside your windows.

  • bornhere

    I think the references to the Verizon building relate not to the fact that it “blocks” a view but that it disrupts a view. And anyone who has loved the view from the Promenade for decades knows that the only value of the Verizon building is that it made the AIG building appear less annoying. I’m not saying we should return to the days of schooners and a skyline punctuated only by the Woolworth Building (although I’m not so sure that would be bad); but to think that the arguments of the “should’s” and “should not’s” on the Dock Street project are equal just have a different sense from mine about Brooklyn and its icon. Like I say, you either get Joni Mitchell or you don’t. My hope is that those who support this project are really, really happy.

  • ABC

    two bad ideas by the anti-dock street team:

    1. leaders from 70 washington
    2. those terrible and misleading renderings of the building.

    I really think this may have gone their way had they been smarter. But still, I appreciate the effort. Let’s hope the school and affordable housing gets done

  • my2cents

    LC, as you walk up the causeway of the bridge right now you get a gorgeous view of the empire state building and the midtown skyline. Once this building is put up all you’ll see is a millionaire flossing his buttcrack with a bath towel thru a soundproofed window. Once you are past the building you can see midtown again but only through the wires of the bridge. I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what view will be blocked, and this is my conclusion.

    On the defense side of the building, at least it won’t be as ugly as the Verizon. I think this building is a mistake but I haven’t heard anyone raise objections to the actual architecture, so that is a relief. It won’t be a unique building, but I think based on the renderings that it will be clean, modern, and stylistically acceptable within Dumbo’s vernacular even if too large.

  • heavy flo

    After this is built, if ever, people from all over will walk by, and not knowing any of shoulds, woulds, schools, views, and affordable housing, blah, blah, …..will just wonder who was in charge when they approved this ugly, new, undistinguished building on this site.

  • my2cents

    Amen, Heavy Flo. City council is asleep at the tiller.

  • nabeguy

    endeavorm, they’re your lungs, do with them what you will. And they’re your kids as well, so feel free to play Russian roulette with their health. Let’s forget about the fact that the bridge was designed during the horse and buggy age, not for the 126,000 cars that cross it every day. And the flood threat that you choose to diminish comes directly from the OEM, not the flat-worlders The fact that Dumbo has always been zoned as an industrial area only reflects the ignorance of past city administrations who pushed the offal of commerce off to it’s outer-most boundaries in the feeble belief that the river winds would mitigate any threat of offense to the noses of the populace. And now it’s zoned as residential. The mistakes of the past have come full circle.

  • nabeguy

    heavy flo, great future perspective. You totally nailed the whole thing.

  • KittyGenovese

    I was driving across the Bridge this afternoon. This box is going to be enormous and it’s going to be a f’n tragedy. It will eliminate all air space to the immediate east of the Bridge. It WILL be like a wall running alongside the bridge. And, within Dumbo, it will also have the same affect of a wall, i.e., it will keep people out and, conversely, it will shut people in (figuratively speaking). After living in Dumbo for a decade, it’s obvious that many of the people who make policy in the neighborhood, have long wanted something akin to a gated community. With the recent rezoning, there can soon be a wall to the west and the east.

    Witnessing the “process” for Dock St. I’m made nervous about what may become of the Empire Stores. I’m also struck by how egregious a slight Dock St. is to the community and to society at large. There is no mandate to make the building energy efficient with no installation of, say, solar panels or solar-powered ventilation. If a building like this is going to be situated so prominently next to the bridge, one would think that Mayor Bloomberg, in all his lip service to all things “green,” would have wanted to make a statement. Was this an oversight, a lack of imagination, or does the mayor really not care about such things? There’s not even a mandate to meet an aesthetic guideline. When they built One Pierrepont Plaza, the Brooklyn Heights Association mandated to have the roof of the building to be consistent with the historic nature of the Heights, which is why they installed a faux-copper (green, in color) roof. This only highlights the utter impotence of the DNA, which has long been a pitiful representative for Dumbo. (Don’t they get free rent from Two Trees?)

  • LC

    Comment from No2Walentas2Trees
    Time: June 10, 2009, 5:12 pm

    frnkln, your the one using name calling in debate. I never insult my adversary. Is this what you teach your kids? Call your opponents ‘idiots’?

    Comment from No2Walentas2Trees
    Time: June 10, 2009, 7:45 pm

    Well, time will tell. When I bike ride down the walkway to Brooklyn, I enjoy seeing DUMBO in it’s glory…Now I will look at a box. Simple. But art is in the eye of the beholder, and I am sure you are fine with paint by numbers.

    I just find it amusing that in 2 and a half hours time you go from claiming to never insult your adversaries, to insulting my personal vantage point. I’m not surprised, that’s pretty much par for the course on anonymous internet boards.

    For the record, I’m not a proponent of the development, but I’m generally an opponent of NIMBY attitudes and sour grapes on their parts when they don’t get their way.

  • OneMain

    LC: I don’t believe for a second that you are not a proponent of Dock St. To say that you are “generally an opponent of NIMBY attitudes,” is akin to saying developers of all stripes should have carte blanche.

    And as far as name calling goes, Two Trees and their minions (of which you are likely one) has a long and unblemished record of defaming and smearing and, in some cases, ruining people who oppose and/or offend them. In these debates, whether it is Dock St., Main Street, or Court Street, Two Trees sets the tone, and it is always one of rancor, deceit and threat.

    This is not about supporting a developer or not supporting NIMBY attitudes. It’s about decency, of which, here, there is little.

  • ch

    I said this last year. History will repeat its self. At 30 Washington Street there is a much needed school for preschoolers with disabilities. It has been there for at least 17 years or more and two trees owns the building. In 2010 the lease runs out and they did not renew it. Guess what will happen to this building? Yes, it will be turned into condos. So, a school does exist in one of their buildings and eventually they will push out the middle school when the lease runs out like they have done to this one. Just like he did to all of the artists. Just wait 10 years and see if the middle school still exists.

  • josh

    I don’t understand why the greatest city in the world needs to make deals with developers to build a school. The city’s budget for last year was $58 billion. And Bloomberg found $30 million to help out laid off wall streeters.

    At first I thought the opposition was mostly property owners protecting their real estate value, but this thing is ugly and huge —

    I do find it amusing though that the developer who created the views for 70 Washington is now the guy taking them away…

  • Neighborhood Observer

    Good grief! We don’t need any more white elephants. Brooklyn is already over built with failing renovations, such as 20 Henry Street, many of the residential buildings in the Downtown/Metro Tech area, and the tragedy of the Atlantic Yards project. If we are lucky, this won’t be built. A much needed public middle school should not be tied to this unwise real estate development. Let’s get a school built or renovated independently….there must be some space. How about one of the Watchtower buildings? The old Squibb Dental Cream complex even has a big gym.

  • my2cents

    Observer,you want a school in a building owned by the jehovah’s witnesses? I’d think twice about that one :-) Not sure that’d slide in the city council.

  • No2Walentas2Trees

    School developed by a greedy developer or school developed by a cult? What happened to a school developed by the public?

  • jiker

    i hope this can be stopped. they should just go build a school somewhere else. you know there will be no affordable housing. it’s all b.s. f**k developers and politicians. all they give a s**t is about money. oh, and those ugly eyesore luxury condos nearby need to be destroyed.

  • my2cents

    What happened is that there is no more land left in populated areas for new schools to be built on without either involving a developer or using city property that is probably already devoted to other use. This is the sad truth in the city. I am not in the slightest defending this project (i have always opposed it) but i am just saying that there aren’t lots of vacant lots away from expressways and chemical contamination just waiting to have a school plopped down on them. And wherever they choose, it’ll piss off someone or other.

  • NewIdea

    Here is a new thought: Building Dock Street and the excavations will make the old warehouse across the street collapse and voila a new location for luxury condo’s to be build by TT is created directly at the water front. Now TT can sell the view again. You must admit TT does some long term planning.

    I am sorry, but I am walking daily through Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo and I just cannot see how this building will fit into the neighborhood from any angel. It is too high, too modern to fit in there. I am not sure how any of the council members that came on site could not see that. All you need to do is look at the existing two ugly luxury buildings in Dumbo and count the number of floors. But then there are only two things that make on blind: Money and something your parents told you not to do. I am sure the latter was not the issue.

  • No One Of Consequence

    The rendering above is a bit misleading (surprise!) in how it shows the lower portion shaded in pink and the offending tower to the left in white with “proposed development” connected only to the lower, pink structure.

    I can only surmise this is more deceit aimed at directing attention away from the taller tower and for TT to say, “See, it’s not so bad.”

    Not to mention that the angle is one that no one (whether of consequence or not) will ever see. (my estimate puts it too high and too close to Manhattan for anything but news/traffic/police choppers).