Few individuals are as versed on the machinations of the Five Boroughs as former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Since leaving office and rejoining Spitzer Enterprises, his eponymous firm has embarked on a substantial building boom, with three towers on the Williamsburg waterfront at 420 Kent Avenue now nearing their opening date. YIMBY sat down with Spitzer to discuss his latest projects, the ongoing evolution of Williamsburg and its waterfront, as well as his thoughts on 270 Park Avenue and the potential repeal of the state cap on residential FAR.
YIMBY in bold.
What’s the best quality about the Williamsburg waterfront today?
It brings together the vitality of Williamsburg with the most dramatic views of the Manhattan skyline.
Over the next five to ten years, what additional benefits do you think will follow, with the simultaneous development of 420 Kent Avenue, the Domino Refinery, and everything else in the inland blocks of Williamsburg?
Kent Avenue is going to become a thoroughfare with excitement and activity – parks and retail – great restaurants – all compounded by Williamsburg’s existing energy.
Do you think Williamsburg’s Class A office development boom will continue into the 2020s?
Adding office development along Kent and nearby in the Navy yard is making this part of Brooklyn a complete “live work play” community – not just a commuting community – it will continue and be wonderful for the area.
Will the protracted inaccessibility of the L train shift development momentum toward the J, M, and Z trains beyond the impacts of the shutdown?
The L shutdown is a short-term bump – it will create a bit of additional activity near the J, M and Z and the ferry – but in the longer term having an improved L line will be great for the neighborhood.
What protective features do the plans for 420 Kent Avenue incorporate to prevent damage from future events like Hurricane Sandy?
Any building now built near the river has all sorts of engineering that is designed to make us ready for a serious storm such as Sandy – all the building systems are elevated – so we are confident we can weather any storm.
Which borough and neighborhood are you most optimistic about looking forward to 2020 in terms of maximizing potential upside and minimizing downside?
New York has too many dynamic communities to pick any one – at the moment the Bronx is seeing significant growth – but so is Queens – and Brooklyn has been on a tear for over a decade now – so picking one is impossible.
What projects are you working on besides 420 Kent Avenue?
We are completing an 800K+ SF office building in Washington, with our partners and friends at Rockrose, and are also earlier in the process on a 1.4 million square foot development in Hudson Yards, with our friends and partners at Related.
How do you feel about the redevelopment of 270 Park Avenue?
What JP Morgan Chase is doing at 270 is spectacular for the city and Park Avenue. As the Hudson Yards and other new office developments downtown have spurred major relocations, it has become evident that Park and Sixth avenues need some re-investment. The new 270 Park will be the first of many such efforts I imagine.
With supertalls increasingly tenable across the City at all market points do you see yourself embarking on any sky-high endeavors in the next decade?
I hate to speculate – right now we are busy with great projects that reach pretty far up, but not quite that tall. Time will tell.
As a Governor of New York, what interests do you think were most problematic in preventing the repeal of the limit on residential FAR, and how do you think Albany’s seemingly imminent action on this long-overdue item will impact the city and housing affordability?
I actually doubt that the FAR repeal will make it through the legislature – but I think smart up-zoning in the right neighborhoods will be good for the growth of the city and the much-needed increase in housing stock.