By Sarina Trangle
After months of battling rezoning in Ridgewood, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) asked his colleagues to join him in giving the proposal their blessing.
Reynoso said during the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meeting Monday that his reversal came as developers made concessions on controls to curb rents and reserve affordable space for artists in the larger of two buildings planned under the new zoning.
“I am looking for a yes vote on this project. I am extremely excited about it,” Reynoso said. “It is what I consider the first step to getting to where I really want us to go in the future of affordable housing.”
The subcommittee and Council’s Land Use Committee unanimously voted in favor of rezoning a roughly three-block strip bounded by Starr Street and Flushing, Woodward and Onderdonk avenues from a manufacturing to residential district.
Should the proposal pass, the Slate Property Group developer intends to construct an 88-unit residence at 176 Woodward Ave. and an eight-apartment building near Woodward Avenue and Starr Street.
The application was slated to go before the full Council this week. Traditionally, the legislature has deferred to individual lawmakers on rezoning decisions in their district.
Reynoso initially echoed gentrification concerns raised by some in Ridgewood, saying he feared the residences could price out current residents and the rezoning could dig into the neighboring Maspeth Industrial Business Zone.
Slate Property Group announced months ago that it intended to place the larger building in the rent-stabilization program so it would qualify for tax abatements.
After negotiations, Slate agreed to reserve half of the building’s units for families on a limited income. This subset covers six apartments available to those making 40 percent of the area median income, which amounts to $51,000 for a family of 2.9, to 17 flats set aside for those making 125 percent of the area median income.
Additionally, Slate received permission to construct a bulkier facility than allowed under the zoning code, so long as 20 percent of the building is kept permanently affordable. Reynoso’s office said this meant roughly 17 or 18 apartments’ rents would only rise with the rate of inflation.
Ridgewood Tenants Union, a recently formed organization seeking to protect renters from rising apartment costs, said the current proposal was leagues ahead of Slate’s initial project description.
“It’s definitely an improvement,” said Raquel Namuche, a member of the union. “As long as the developer keeps his promises of allocating affordable housing, we feel that’s a huge success in terms of us speaking up.”
Beyond rent, Slate agreed to use a more flexible zoning category for 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Reynoso maintained this designation could host 3-D printers, metal suppliers and other businesses hailing from the IBZ.
The owner also pledged to rent a 3,000-square-foot community area to local artists and organizations at an annual rate of $10.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.