The city recently approved an application allowing the proposed River Ring Development on the Williamsburg waterfront to begin the land use review process.
The development, which would include two residential high-rise towers and a beach, has been plagued by delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and significant pushback from the community.
The project’s two towers will rise 49 stories and 64 stories, making them the tallest structures in Williamsburg. They will include 1,250 apartments, 60,000 square feet of office space, 23,000 square feet of retail, a YMCA with a pool and indoor track, public park, and parking garage.
The developer needs to secure a rezoning that will allow for construction on the site, which is currently zoned for manufacturing. The project has already attracted support and criticism from the local community.
Recently, Two Trees opened a climate change-themed mini golf course titled PUTTING GREEN on the site at North 1st and River Street.
Two Trees partnered partnered with the Billion Oyster Project, Greenpoint YMCA, Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, Newtown Creek Alliance, and Brooklyn Grange on the project.
“This mini golf course is an opportunity to start a conversation with players of all ages about climate change and its impacts,” said Two Trees managing director David Lombino. “By repurposing this construction space, we were able to partner with local organizations and environmental groups to collectively create a space that the entire community can enjoy.”
But the community organization Sustainable Williamsburg has been fighting the development since its conception.
“We are at the heart of a neighborhood in the past decade that has seen more development and construction than any across America,” explained Sustainable Williamsburg member Matthew Emmi. “We as neighbors are asked to stomach another development, before we are able to fully digest and comprehend the impacts of 7,500-plus new residents to the waterfront that are currently underway.”
Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher is also critical of the project. She argues the tax abatement that Two Trees Management would receive through the state’s 421-A program,which rewards developers with property tax exemptions in return for affordable housing, are inappropriate.
“It is the wrong moment to grant a 35-year property tax abatement under the ‘Affordable New York Housing Program,’ commonly referred to as 421-a, which is scheduled to expire next year,” Gallagher said.