MTA reveals ‘Monitor Point’ redevelopment project of Brooklyn waterfront warehouse

211018 – 40 Quay Renderings
A rendering of the Monitor Point development proposed for MTA-owned land at 40 Quay Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

MTA unveiled plans to redevelop a transit warehouse at the north Brooklyn waterfront into a mixed use tower that would contain up to 900 new apartments at 40 Quay St., according to a Wednesday evening announcement.

Developer Gotham got the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s go-ahead for the nearly $39 million deal to lease the parcel of land in Greenpoint that currently houses New York City Transit’s wash facility and erect a high-rise building dubbed Monitor Point.

“The MTA has a statutory obligation to retrieve market value for disposition of any property,” said acting MTA chief Janno Lieber in a statement Oct. 20. “The in-kind improvements and revenue generated will help fund transit system improvements and ensure the MTA continues to deliver reliable service for all riders.”

Gotham plans to construct the building with the 900 apartments, a quarter of which will be set aside for people with incomes averaging 60% of the federally-designated Area Median Income, or AMI, which equates to $64,440 for a family of three.

Brooklyn nonprofit RiseBoro Community Partnership will help manage the income-restricted units.

The development will also offer a publicly-accessible waterfront walkway fronting the East River and the Bushwick Inlet, and a new home for a museum dedicated to the Civil War-era ship the USS Monitor, from which the project gets its name.

40 Quay Street lies at the East River waterfront and the Bushwick Inlet.MTA

The steam-powered ironclad vessel was built in the neighborhood in 1862, before it set sail to  fight for the Union in the American Civil War at the Battle of Hampton Roads, but sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, later that year killing 16 sailors. A street in Brooklyn, about two miles east of the Monitor Point site, is named for the Monitor.

Before Gotham can begin work on the tower, the private company will construct a new purpose-built wash facility for NYCT to move to at 208 Varick Ave. in East Williamsburg.

The developers will also try to get a rezoning of the almost 2-acre lot from the city to build taller than currently allowed. For that, the proposal will have to make its way through the lengthy public review known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

The public waterfront access and below-market-rate units are requirements under city regulations if municipal officials green-light the zoning change.

Monitor Point will also include new home for NYCT’s Emergency Service Units, currently stationed at the northern tip of Greenpoint at 65 Commercial St. Moving out those emergency vehicles will finally allow the city to finish a 16-years-delayed green space named Box Street Park at that lot.

The deal could bring in almost $39 million for the transit agency if the property gets rezoned, $7.1 million if the city denies the rezoning and the developer builds as-of-right, according to MTA documents.

The funds would go toward MTA’s massive $54.8 billion capital plan for projects like new station elevators and updating the subway’s signaling system.

While the project sailed through the MTA board vote Wednesday, it has not found favor with locals since the agency first opened a bidding process for the property in 2019, including area Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and the community board, who have opposed the redevelopment and instead pushed for a park for the publicly-owned lot.

Residents spoke out against it again ahead of the full board meeting, including one member of the local green space advocacy group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

“We believe the deal is a betrayal of public trust and we call on the MTA withdraw from the conditional designation of Gotham for the redevelopment of 40 Quay in Greenpoint and to work with the Greenpoint-Williamsburg community,” said Katherine Conkling Thompson, a co-chairperson of the group. “The deal you have struck with Gotham is just a drop in the bucket [of the overall MTA capital budget].”

Gotham plans to start an environmental analysis and community outreach next year and will launch its ULURP application in 2024, before breaking ground at the end of that year, according to the project’s website.