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Williamsburg Pfizer Site Rezoning Approved By City Council Despite Protests

The Pfizer Building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, vacant since 2007

Rabsky Group's residential development at the former Pfizer site in the Broadway Triangle now has City Council approval to move forward.

The New York City Council voted to rezone the site for residential use in a full meeting on Tuesday while protestors shouted complaints, Crain's New York Business reports. The measure passed with 37 yes votes, seven opposed and two abstaining.

The project is in the district represented by Councilman Steve Levin, who supports it, and the council continued in its tradition of deferring to the representative of the affected district, despite protest and condemnation from Councilman Antonio Reynoso, whose district neighbors the site.

"The rezoning will only contribute to a long history of segregation in the Broadway Triangle," Reynoso said to the council before voting against the measure.

The Broadway Triangle sits at the southern edge of Williamsburg, long an area filled with Hasidic Jews, and abuts Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, which have large minority populations. A 2009 development attempt was struck down in court for favoring Hasidim with a plan of mostly four- and five-bedroom apartments.

Rabsky Group's plan calls for 287 units designated as affordable, with a more balanced mix of smaller and larger units, though no breakdown has been given for the 859 market-rate units that would also be included on empty land adjacent to the former Pfizer manufacturing plant. The development, managed by Rabsky subsidiary Harrison Realty, will contain 65K SF of retail and a half-acre of public space.

Rabsky Group has promised to hire local workers for the construction and management of the project, which is scheduled to deliver by the end of 2019, and to pay them the prevailing wage as determined by the Department of Labor.

Pfizer, long gone from the site, will be moving into its new headquarters at the Tishman Speyer Spiral building in Hudson Yards at around the same time as the apartments finish.