This was something that Richard Baas, chief planning and development specialist at Herrick, Feinstein LLP, discovered might not go over as easily as expected for his restoration proposal of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory at 74 Kent Ave, most recently left vacant after the owner was arrested for Quaalude trafficking, according to Baas.
“City planning agreed that based on preservation planning that a variance was the best policy,” said Bass. “That plan can’t occur until the commission approves Bruce’s plans,” he added referring to Bruce Cutler, project architect. “There’s been real physical hardships in the building in addition to preservation issues that prohibit it from being re-used.”
Heather Roslund, second vice-chairperson of Community Board 1, recommended additional components to the project with the hopes that the community can benefit from the restoration proposal.
Roslund and the board unanimously agreed that restoring the building to a purely residential layout would not be compatible with the current vision for the region.
“It would be great to have some small businesses above some kind of retail component,” she added. The board also suggested using a mixed-use building concept, just one of the suggestions given to convince the board and community’s approval of the project.
In the fast-growing portion of Greenpoint, many residents are hesitant to put in more housing units, which many say the people in the neighborhood cannot afford.
Known only as Miss Heather to her followers on her blog newyorkshitty.com; the 13-year Greenpoint resident lives just blocks from the proposed restoration site.
“There is plenty of ways that space could be used to be commercial or even manufacturing,” she said. “You’ve got woodworkers over there; you’ve got artists and creatives who need space.”
She added that she would like to see the building used commercially, however, in similar sentiments as the board she is open to other ideas that would benefit the community.
“When I see how that area has changed, and I see how many of these areas have been converted into luxury housing and the preponderance of that housing is one-bedrooms and studios, which is not what this neighborhood needs,” she said. “It needs affordable housing.”