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Developer Threatens Sale Of Prime Brooklyn Property To Last-Mile User If Rezoning Is Denied

A rendering of Two Trees' planned development in Williamsburg.

A New York developer says it will pull the pin on its planned massive mixed-use development in Brooklyn if its hoped-for rezoning is blocked, saying there has been significant interest from buyers who want the land for a big logistics facility.

Two Trees Management is planning to build a major mixed-use development on 3.5 acres on the Williamsburg waterfront that will feature more than 1,000 residential units and wants the location rezoned to make it a reality. 

“There’s this perception out there that if our plan doesn’t work, we’ll stick around and hold onto it and produce something different,” Two Trees spokesperson David Lombino told The Real Deal. “I think that’s a fiction.”

There has been major pushback from a group called Sustainable Williamsburg, which is worried that kind of building would put too much pressure on local public transport and accelerate gentrification, TRD reports.

A representative from the group told TRD the suggestion the company would sell is an empty threat, but Lombino denied that was the case. He said the company's “phone has been ringing regularly” from developers who want the site for last-mile development.

The dispute is just one of many that have erupted in the past few years over zoning issues. In SoHo and NoHo, the city’s plan to run the first rezoning in 50 years was met with major opposition. A lawsuit aiming to halt it was filed by local opponents who argued that the city should not be allowed to move forward without holding in-person meetings. However, the City Planning Commission last month certified the application to rezone, meaning the public review process can continue.

Rezoning plans for Gowanus were held up by lawsuits, but a judge ruled in April the proposal could move forward. Last year, the developers of Industry City pulled the plug on plans to rezone in the face of community and political opposition. Proponents of rezoning argue it is a vital tool to increase housing in the city, which will bring down the overall cost amid an affordability crisis.

However, land use experts have told Bisnow the city's land use processes need to be overhauled to pay greater attention to their impact on certain communities.

All the while, last-mile delivery hubs, on the waterfront in Brooklyn in particular, have proliferated, bringing thousands of blue-collar jobs and heavy vehicular traffic to the area.