Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 6, 1963 – City Hall fight shapes on Coney apartments

A busload of Coney Island businessmen will descend upon City Hall tomorrow to counter opposition to the Brightwater Towers housing project on Surf Ave. when the proposal comes before the Board of Estimate for public hearing.

The middle-income housing project was approved last November by the City Planning Commission and needs only Board of Estimate okay to proceed.

Glick Associates plans to erect two 12-story buildings to house 738 apartments on property it owns on Surf Ave. between W. 5th and W. 8th Sts.

The property is one block from the Coney Island boardwalk and directly opposite the New York Aquarium; it is vacant and partially used for parking.

The project has been strongly opposed by amusement park interests who contend the site should be used as a parking facility to accommodate visitors to the resort area. The New York Aquarium is also in opposition to locating the housing development on that particular site.

The Coney Island Board of Trade, which arranged to bus some 50 year-round businessmen to the hearing, maintains that middle-income housing is needed in Coney Island and that parking lots serving the beachfront resort are in use only three months of the year, serving no useful purpose the other nine.

The builders, said Coney Island Board of Trade secretary Lou Powsner, were informed last November by the Traffic Department’s chief of parking facilities that his agency did not deem it necessary to use the Glick property for municipal parking facilities. There is no reason, said Powsner, why parking facilities cannot be located within the amusement area itself, particularly in view of the Traffic Department’s approval of such a plan. The amusement people, however, contend such an arrangement would only cause further traffic congestion.

In approving the housing project, the City Planning Commission said the development would facilitate clearance of substandard areas in Coney Island by increasing the housing supply.

The Coney Island Chamber of Commerce, representing amusement park interests, agrees the area needs slum clearance and good housing but says it doesn’t need projects in the middle of the world-famous beach. It suggests locating new housing north and west of the amusement area, and using this particular property for a municipal parking lot for visitors to the Aquarium and the resort area.

The site, once occupied by a trolley car barn, had reportedly been informally pledged by the Transit Authority to the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce for parking but was later sold at auction to Glick Associates.

Glick says the city would realize $270,000 annually in taxes after the site has been developed, whereas now it produces only $17,000 in tax revenue.

Under provisions of the Mitchell-Lama Act, which is intended to stimulate construction of middle-income housing by private builders, Glick would receive certain tax concessions. City planner and architect Vito Batista charges that under Mitchell-Lama, the Glick development will result in a loss of tax revenues rather than an increase.

Representatives of supporting and opposing organizations are expected to enliven the Board of Estimate hearing with heated arguments for and against the project.


(Special thanks to Brooklyn Public Library)

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