Sprawling Greenpoint project’s future hinges on one politician

From left: Council member Stephen Levin and a rendering of 77 Commercial Street
From left: Council member Stephen Levin and a rendering of 77 Commercial Street

The fate of a proposal to construct two high-rise towers at 77 Commercial Street in Greenpoint now sits largely in City Council member Stephen Levin’s hands.

The politician must decide by Thursday — the date for the council’s last session of the year — whether to allow one 30-story and one 40-story tower on the site, instead of two 15-story buildings as the current zoning allows. The council previously postponed the final vote, and is expected to go along with what Levin, who represents the area, decides.

Along with getting the City Council’s approval, developers Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer would have to purchase development rights from a neighboring site owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for around $8.2 million.

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For advocates of the project, the development offers up 200 much-needed units of affordable housing and money for a long-awaited park. But for detractors, Levin holds a rare opportunity to slow the pace of development along the North Brooklyn waterfront.

“There are developers poised to develop all along the waterfront, and a lot of them are watching,” Michael Brown, a local community organizer, told the Wall Street Journal. “We have to make a stand, and we have to say that if you are going to delude and destroy our culture and change the character, you’re not going to do it without a fight.”

Chetrit and Bistricer have also come under fire for proposing a “poor door,” or a separate entrance for affordable housing residents, at the Greenpoint site. [WSJ]Julie Strickland