Full House at Dock Street DUMBO Hearing


BHB Tipster “MP” tells us that it’s a “full house” at the Brooklyn Borough President’s hearing on the Dock Street DUMBO Project.  He adds that there seems to be a “few more people/groups” speaking against the project.

The Brooklyn Paper’s Gersh “Nude Model” Kuntzman reports:

The first speaker, Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope), joined his Brooklyn Heights colleague David Yassky in objecting to the project. But DeBlasio stuck mostly to what he said was not enough below-market-rate units in the project, which currently sets aside 65 of its 375 apartment as “affordable housing.” “The city needs to move towards greater affordability than 20 percent,” he said.

Other opponents painted Walentas, who has spent, by his own estimate, more than $100,000 to lobby city officials over the past two years, as a man who sweetened his rejected project from 2004 with a public middle school — and then convinced city officials that this was the best offer they could get.

Update: Our tipster adds:
It was a full house in the main hearing room at Borough Hall tonight as Borough President Markowitz held an open hearing as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process for the Dock St. DUMBO project. I saw a cameraman from Channel 2 new covering, and some of the local press.

It was a well run meeting where those wishing to speak received 3 minutes on a podium directly facing Marty and in the middle of the audience.

At least ¾ of the speakers were against the project as currently designed. The reasons included:

· It diminishes the Brooklyn Bridge

· The proposed school with only 300 seats would be inadequate for the current and future demand, with no expansion possibility on the site.

· The proposed school would be directly underneath a 400 car garage, and also next to the Brooklyn Bridge, which in the past has been a terrorist target.

· The process to choose a school for the district has not been transparent.

· The project is not contextual for the area.

· Many others such as traffic, bad place to put a school in a flood zone,

Judging by applause from the audience, at least ¾ in attendance were against the project.

A bound copy of over 9,000 signatures against the project was presented to Marty. All of the local neighborhood associations (non merchant) came out against the project including Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill Associations.

A CPA with many years in real estate gave a fiery speech accusing the Walentas’ of greed and duplicity when they claim they cannot make a profit on the site if the development is below the roadway of the bridge and offered his own study to Marty and his time to review the numbers.

Most of the parents of local school age children were against the project (BHB’s own contributor Carlo Trigiani was among the only exceptions).

Many speakers pleaded with the Beep not to tarnish Brooklyn’s legacy and his legacy.

Marty seemed to remain awake and engaged while rocking in his high backed leather chair throughout the entire hearing.

David, Jane, and Jed Walentas were all in attendance (Jed didn’t dress like a schlub for this one and appears to have shaved). Hard to tell, but I think that Dumbo’s First Family was surprised at the opposition to the project and the criticism they received.

The usual merchants who have benefitted from Walentas largess over the years spoke in favor of the project.

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  • Publius

    Brooklyn Paper looks into the hundred of thousands of dollars Two Trees spends on lobbyists:


  • Publius
  • fulton ferry res

    Why is Fulton Ferry Landing Association always left off the list of opponents? Nine speakers were from our small neighborhood, and all were against the project. Give us some props!

  • Homer Fink

    @fulton – email us with your details – webmaster AT brooklynheightsblog.com

  • davoyager

    Bill DeBlasio took a page from his friend Yassky by making his statement and then leaving so as not to taint his preconceived opinion with the views of the public. His empty chair was much in evidence during the entire hearing.
    Homer I think you were at a different meeting form me. During the early part of the evening the split was even. It wasn’t till much later when a rush of transplanted Manhattanites coming home from work who don’t have small children at home crowded out parents I personally know of who didn’t have time to wait around for all the whining to stop so they could make their case in support of the project. I would suggest it was more like 60/40 and I think we should wait for the Beep’s office to release some official numbers before suggesting the level of support or opposition. Moreover as a PS 8 parent and someone who actually went to PS 8 over 40 years ago I don’t think you are in any position to judge the mood of these people. The opposition has done a good job of whipping up a hysterical frenzy and of squashing open debate but I think reason will win the day.
    By the way I love the “run for your lives” arguments of flood plain and terrorist target etc. If these arguments had any merit I would submit all the happy residents of DUMBO should flee their pricey digs and then we would have lots of buildings to put our school in.

  • davoyager

    Besides I thought I gave a fiery speech.
    Where was Councilman Yassky and the BHA when these other mega projects were planned and approved with no schools included?
    These people don’t care about public education and if this project is defeated there will be no new school period. Just as there hasn’t been a good middle school in this area in all my over 50 years.

  • fulton ferry res

    Yeah, davoyager, you gave a great speech (sarcasm). Especially when you started out by saying you were a victim of NYC public schools. If you go back that far, then you will recall that there would have been a middle school built on Poplar St circa 1967, except that there was a forced integration plan at the time, and Bklyn Hts parents did not want to send their kids to PS7, so the school was never built.

  • Publius


    Please kill the auto-refresh on BHB. I was just finishing a brilliant rebuttal to DA’s delusion, when it all disappeared due to the auto refresh.

    I’m not going to recaputure that brilliance, so I’ll just make a few points:

    — DA is a legend in his own mind. His speech was slightly less than average and just a rehash of the arguments already presented. However, he took especial care to condemn all of those who have been in Brooklyn shorter than he has as “transplanted Manhattanites.” Espcially obnoxious, untrue, and helped to kill any positive points he had to make.

    — I was there almost the entire hearing and it was overwhelmingly against the project as currently proposed.

    — Many were PS 8 parents and the vast majority of those are against the project as currently proposed.

    — I hope the Beep puts out the transcript, so that an objective tally of those for/against will be determined.

    — The hearing was so overwhelmingly against the project as proposed that unless Marty’s decision was made way ahead and a foregone conclusion, he’s likely to vote against the project as proposed.

    I was born in Brooklyn Hospital and have lived here (with a few interruptions for school and career) for my entire life. It’s obnoxious to claim that those who have less time on the ground are not real Brooklynites and don’t care for where they live.

  • davoyager

    yeah, I also went to PS 7 so I guess my parents didn’t have those objections and I certainly wish that school had been built but it wasn’t so let’s build this school shall we?

    I do agree that you should kill the auto refresh as I have lost many carefully crafted comments; and the addition problem on the DUMBO blog is also a pain in the a## cause I often forget to attend to that detail.

  • fulton ferry res

    Davo- since when does a councilman have to stay for the entire hearing? He gave his testimony, and that’s it.

    As for the ratio, the beginning was front-loaded with commercial tenants and other supporters who have a connection to Walentas: the Jacques Torres spokesperson, the 2 artists, the Jazz place guy, the Dean of Architecture from Pratt (Walentas is on their Board of Trustees), the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce guy. So the proponents had many people testify up front because they are not 9-5 workers, and more opponents spoke later. *So what*. Remember, if you signed at 6 you didn’t get to speak until 8. And anyway, plenty of lifelong Brooklynites work in Manhattan too.

    As for PS8 parents, besides you and Carlo and a woman I don’t know, I don’t recall any other supporters, unless you include Tony? from CB2, whose children went there years ago. But I do recall the PS8 parent who has 3 kids, K, 3rd, and 10th grades, who testified against the project, and there were others.

    And exactly how has the opposition squashed open debate? How about how Two Trees forces their tenants to testify, with thinly-disguised threats. In 2004, a well-known person from the arts community told me how terrible he/she felt about testifying for TT, but had no choice. This year, there are even worse stories which I won’t spell out in order to protect the tenant.

  • davoyager

    Where was Councilman Yassky and the BHA, you tell me.? Why is Middle school even an issue in this neighborhood. It is because of a failure of leadership on the part of our local leaders.
    If this project is defeated there will be no school and Brooklyn once again will go without. Thank you and goodnight.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    How many of the DUMBO residents who spoke would lose their view? How many want to preserve their investment so they can sell and buy a bigger house in Westchester?
    Why don’t the BHA and Yassky send their kids to public schools?

    Please respond.

  • Anonymous

    I am against the project simply based on the looks of Jed Walentas as seen on NY1 yesterday. I wouldnt trust that man with a penny. I dont have kids and I do not live in Dumbo and therefore cannot lose a view. But I do wonder why humanity constantly has the need to destroy traditional, historical or natural landmarks/locations/etc. I am convinced that there are empty spaces somewhere down in Dumbo where a school could be setup without having all the impact the new building would have. As far as retail space goes 76 Washington and accross the street has been empty for at least 3 years besides an occasional flea market or art exhibition. TT has had signs “for rent” up there for a long time. I have followed this discussion for some time now and are intrigued by it.

  • Publius

    There goes Carlo again, suspecting the motives of his adversaries. Just today he claims on another blog to want to speak about the issues and move past the attacks on perceived motives behind one’s opponents positions:


    Check out posts 9:18am and 9:27am.

    Then check out Carlo’s comments 5 minutes later (9:34am) on this blog again attacking his opponents motives.

    I’ll let the intelligent readers of this blog make up their own minds about someone who says one thing then does the exact opposite 5 minutes later.

    Let’s stick to the merits and drawbacks of the proposed project as we have this debate. Attacking one’s opponents perceived “ulterior” motives only decends into personal attacks and the politics of name calling.

  • fulton ferry res

    Hey Carlo, I can’t answer your question about DUMBO residents, but I can tell you this: Of the 10 Fulton Ferry residents who spoke, NONE will have views of the Bridge blocked. As a matter of fact, some don’t even have bridge-facing views. Now, how do you explain that?

  • nabeguy

    Carlo, we’ve talked face to face about this project and I know how passionate you are in your support of it, but I think you’re letting it get to you…that last post of yours has you sounding more like a cynical realtor than a concerned parent.
    DA, the so-called hysteria that you mention about this project being in a flood plain is based not only empirical observation, but on the yearly reminders that the OEM sends to homeowners about what would happen to this particular area in a category 2 hurricane, an event that many experts agree is likely to occur sooner than later. As for the Dumbo residents and their choice to live there…well, all I can say is that I hope anyone on the first floors has flood insurance.

  • Carlo Trigiani


    Trying to stay positive, the arguments in support of the project are as follows:

    1) The proposed building is reasonable and doesn’t infringe on public views of the bridge.

    2) Affordable Housing is needed and will help diversify the neighborhood.

    3) Construction jobs will give an immediate boost to the local economy. Post construction jobs (think property managers, engineers, store clerks, parking attendants, teachers, etc.) will be a lasting benefit.

    4) Green Construction is a plus.

    5) Parking will be needed when the park is completed. Cars out of sight are an aesthetic plus.

    6) Middle School – continue the progress made at PS 8 by giving the children of District 13 a great middle school option. Not to mention, an incentive to work harder to land a seat at the DUMBO Middle School.

    7) Improving the property leads to more economic activity which leads to more taxes.

    8) The size of the project is not overwhelming to the neighborhood.

    9) The streets and sidewalks will get fixed!

    10) The building proposed is superior to what sits there today.

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Qfwfq

    What about PS 307/satellite west middle school over at 209 york street? What’s wrong with it? Is it not an option?

  • fulton ferry res

    And now counterpoint:

    1) The building will block views from the BB walkway with a 55′ by 200′ silhouette. It will also block views from the streets and will cast shadows on the Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Fulton Ferry State Park.

    2) Affordable housing can be part of a lower building as well.

    3) There will be construction and post-construction jobs in a lower building as well.

    4) A smaller building can be green also.

    5) A smaller parking garage for a smaller building will suffice.

    6) Where does it say that working harder will land you a seat at the school?

    7) The property will be improved with a smaller building as well.

    8) 323 apartments and 465 parking spaces will overwhelm the narrow streets (Dock and Water). Just think about the FedEx, UPS and Fresh Direct deliveries alone! Everyone exiting the garage will have to turn left on Front Street, because the entrance/exit will be past the 2-way part of the street. This means that unless you are headed for Manhattan or the BQE entrance on Sands Street, you will be forced to travel down tiny Main Street back to Water St to Old Fulton, or turn right on Washington (also narrow) to York back to Front to Old Fulton. The neighborhood simply cannot handle this kind of traffic.

    9) A 2 year plan for repaving Washington and Water Streets, fixing and replacing the Belgian blocks, has already been announced by DOT.

    10) St Ann’s Warehouse will be displaced by the proposed project. A plan has been put forward in the past to move the theater group into the Tobacco Warehouse, increasing its height and roofing it. This would also be a desecration of a unique urban space, which affords spectacular views through its portals of the Manhattan Bridge, for example.

    Your turn.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    1-5, 7 and 8 – I assume the building will be smaller when Marty/Yassky cut a deal.

    6 – Hard work has its advantages.

    9 – Great

    10 – St Ann’s is a wonderful asset to the community. The Walentases have given them a home rent free for more than 7 years. I hope they find a space that works.

    How about giving us your argument against?


  • Publius

    Carlo and Fulton Ferry Res:

    Good going!

    I’d just add to the response that with regard to the “affordable housing”–that term needs to be properly defined way ahead of time. A market rate apartment for $3,700/month lowered to $2,700 will not achieve any economic diversity for the neighborhood. I’d also like to see complete transparency, written rules and the developer not participating in the selection of tennants for the affordable apartments to avoid the peception (or the reality) of impropriety.

    R7B zoning (75ft limit) would be the proper compromise here. The school, parking, affordable housing, market rate housing get built, retail spaces are created, and the integrity of our national landmark is preserved. There still would be an issue with traffic/egress that still has to be addressed ahead of time

    Yes, Two Trees won’t make as much profit, but they paid relatively little for the land. The government and community is not responsible for guaranteeing high upside to developers who speculate. We reserve that for the bankers.

    FFR: A suggestion to paste your response to the dumbonyc.com blog where Carlo also posted his excellent detailed position.

  • Publius

    Daily News is reporting that the Obama stimulus package is likely to greatly benefit NYC, and that the City’s wishlist includes 20 new schools to ease overcrowding:


    Since the financing of the Two Trees project may take some time (even years) on top of the zoning change (if successful), I strongly encourage our local elected officials to begin lobbying the mayor/school chancellor to select District 13 for one or more of those 20 new schools.

    This is increasingly likely to be the fastest way that a new middle school with over 300 seats can be created in this economic environment.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    You might be onto something. Why not use the stimulus money for Dock Steet?

    Realistically, finding/negotiating/preparing an environmental review/vetting the project with the community for a new site will certainly take longer than getting Dock Street done. If the stimulus money is looking for a home – why not Dock Street. Potential lenders will be knocking down the door. The security of having the US government involved lessens the credit risk, makes the project that more attractive, puts TARP funds to work. The DOE and SCA are ready to go. The timing works well.

    Great suggestion.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Can *just* a school be built there without a zoning change?
    Nix the above-bridge-height-tower and there would probably be broad support.
    Otherwise, if we redirected our energies towards working together to find a new site, etc., great things could happen.

    I’m also curious, those who support this project, would you still be in favor of an as-tall-as-Walentas-wants commercial structure as current zoning (supposedly) allows and as they have threatened? (I say supposedly because I bet if they really tried to pull that stunt they’d be in for an even bigger fight.)

  • No One Of Consequence

    oh, one more thing I keep forgetting…
    What about High School?
    As much as I would have liked to have been finished with school after 8th grade, there are still 4 more years to go.

  • Chester

    I think it’s time for a Homer Fink Show on this topic!

  • Publius

    I’d consider supporting that if the Dock St. building did not rise above the bridge roadway, which is my own personal reason why I don’t currently support the Dock St. project.

    Alternatively, an existing structure could be used, such as an existing building in DUMBO newly proposed by a rival developer, or perhaps the abandoned police precinct building on Poplar Street–right down the block from PS 8.

    From a speed/cost perspective, renovating an existing building may be preferable.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    A public High School at One BB Park would be great. Let’s use the Dock Street model – developer contributes $ and condo interest in the space.

    As has been discussed repeatedly, 72 Poplar has been considered by the SCA. The site doesn’t work for a school as the footprint is too small. There are also landmark issues. Financially, the city sold the property for $9 million and the private owner wants $14 million. May be a great spot for more affordable housing or an assisted living facility.

    From a practical perspective, a special use such as a school may be faster and easier with new construction. Any architects out there?

  • davoyager

    The city has great high schools already. I myself went to Stuyvesant. High school kids can travel. Middle school kids are too young and vulnerable for that.
    The stimulus money is a stopgap measure which will only serve to keep current plans from being canceled. The Republicans, who seem to have forgotten that they lost the election will not let us get enough money for new projects.
    Again, there is no school as part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park plan and no call for one by politicians, there are no schools in the Atlantic Yards project and no call for them by politicians. And if these projects are built as planned they will add so many more residents that the need for local schools will become even more acute.