DUMBO Development Draws Widespread Opposition

April 2, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Author David McCullough (R) and City Council Member Tony Avella at a protest in DUMBO. A total of 11,000 signatures have been collected to stop the construction of an 18-story residential tower that will obstruct views. (Sheryl Buchholtz)
Author David McCullough (R) and City Council Member Tony Avella at a protest in DUMBO. A total of 11,000 signatures have been collected to stop the construction of an 18-story residential tower that will obstruct views. (Sheryl Buchholtz)
NEW YORK—Renowned historian and author David McCullough took a trip to DUMBO on Wednesday to take a stand for one of his favorite landmarks—the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mr. McCullough joined local community activists voiced his opposition to the DUMBO Dock Street building project that would include an 18-story high rise for luxury apartments. McCullough and other opponents of the development project say that such a tall building would obscure the view of the bridge and would also be out of place in an area where most buildings are no taller than four stories. Opponents of the development have suggested that the high-rise be limited to the height of the bridge’s roadway—roughly 95 feet.

McCullough was joined by local politicians, community groups, and NGOs who have been actively fighting the development project since 2004. But even as Mr. McCullough waxed poetic about the virtues of maintaining such a precious historic area, DUMBO’s Dock Street—the pet project of Two Trees Management owners David and Jed Wallentas—seems poised to sail through City Council.

Two Trees has sweetened the deal by including a new public school as part of the project, and this has brought many in the City Council over to the Walentas’ side of things. At the moment the land the Walentas want to develop is zoned for industrial use. They are seeking to change the zoning to residential.

Opponents of Dock Street have collected over 11,000 signatures of people against the project. They are also backed by the Roebling Society for Industrial Architecture (named for the bridge’s architect), the National Trust in Washington, D.C., and The Municipal Arts Society.

Local activist Gus Sheha, who was at Wednesday’s gathering, said that McCullough is the man to amplify the message to City Council.

“He has clearly been a very passionate person about American history, our national monuments, and more importantly the Brooklyn Bridge itself after he authored “The Brooklyn Bridge” in the late ‘70’s,” said Sheha,

City Council Members Tony Avela, Bill Deblasio, and David Yassky have all voiced their opposition the Dock Street Development. The Two Trees petition is currently in the City Council’s Planning Commission. Its vote will be made public on April 22, at which point the request will be passed on to the full City Council.

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