A housing development slated for 2828 W. 28th St. was at the center of a heated discussion at Community Board 13’s monthly general meeting on Wednesday night at the New York Aquarium’s Education Hall.
Some board members grew visibly frustrated and others in the room raised concerns over an apparent miscommunication regarding the zoning details surrounding Arker Company’s Sea Park North development, which is slated to feature seven- or eight-story buildings with 153 units, and another building on Mermaid Ave. that could feature as many as nine stories.
The controversy stemmed from a Community Board 13 Land Use Committee meeting on Nov. 14, when Committee Member Yelena Makhnin noted that the board voted on Sea Park North as an affordable housing development and that it was not presented as a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) with the rezoning of two blocks and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.
At that meeting, Makhnin said board members were lied to and that it was unfair to the board and the community at large. A representative from Arker Companies said at that meeting that the company believed the community board understood the ULURP procedure and that the company did not intend to mislead the board.
ULURP is a public reviewing procedure and the community board is responsible for holding a public hearing within 60 days of receiving a certified application. Community boards are also required to adopt and submit a written recommendation to the applicant, the borough president, and sometimes the borough board.
Arker Companies offered two different proposals: an amendment to the zoning map to rezone part of a block connected to Neptune Ave., W. 28th St., Mermaid Ave., and W. 29th from R5 and R6/C1-2 districts to R5, R6, R6A, and R7A/C2-4 districts; and a text amendment that would designate part of their development as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area, which requires developers to weave in affordable housing in rezoned areas.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, District Manager Eddie Marks acknowledged the miscommunication and apologized to board members who were expressing their frustration.
City Council Perspective
As tensions flared, City Councilmember Mark Treyger was provided with an opportunity to speak about ULURP procedure, the development, and general housing issues facing the community. He also took questions from those in attendance.
“Your voice matters a lot to me,” Treyger said. “Your concerns matter a lot to me. Ultimately, the application lands in City Council, and that is a very big responsibility that I take very seriously.”
The councilmember raised some issues about the development — such as the lack of a proper crosswalk leading to Kaiser Park — before presenting a series of additional questions that he said he will consider when reviewing this project.
“Is this a quality construction project?” he asked. “Is this something that will actually meet the needs of our residents and make sure our residents have access to these apartments? Will there be a solid commitment that at least 50 percent of units go to Community Board 13? Will there be commitment that the income levels will reach the families that need help the most? Will there be a commitment to increase and deal with our parking crisis?”
Treyger further highlighted the importance of keeping all construction on a local level — that those in the neighborhood should have a say and a part in every step of the process. But, with Arker Companies in attendance, he also railed against high rent prices and spoke passionately about the need for affordable housing in Coney Island and beyond. Watch the video below.