Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
Eight years after a rezoning paved the way for the Williamsburg waterfront’s transformation into Miami Beach, residents and politicians in neighboring Greenpoint are speaking up about their own shoreline.
District councilman hopeful Stephen Pierson vowed that he will go to court to reduce the size of planned 40-story towers to 15 or 20 stories. And other opponents of the waterfront redefinition have released renderings of hulking high-rises that dwarf the Manhattan skyline across the river.
In 1971, the State of New York passed the Urstadt Law, which took away New York City’s ability to set rent controls that were stricter than what the state—dominated by considerably more conservative upstate politicians—would allow. For 25 years the city has tried to coax developers into creating affordable housing through “inclusionary zoning” programs, which dangle density bonuses and tax abatements in exchange for building (or in some cases, maintaining) below-market apartments in their new buildings or nearby.
Some developers take the bait, but not many. Now, as Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years are up, his would-be successors running in the Democratic primary seem to have found a way around the Urstadt Law: they want to make the inclusionary zoning programs mandatory.
There’s no doubt that the Sunbright Hotel in Chinatown is a dump. Billed as a single room occupancy, the lodgings fall short in the “room” department, packing tenants into 5-by-7-foot metal cubicles topped by a chickenwire enclosure, as reported by the Post, which recently exposed the horrible conditions at the building.
“Roaches, bedbugs, fleas and other vermin infest the building. Hot hallways reek of rotting trash, sweat and urine,” wrote the Post, describing the pest-plagued, overcrowded residence, where more than 100 men share the same communal bathroom. And, after leaving its readers horrified, the tabloid scored something of a coup: mayoral candidate Bill Thompson visited and expressed his shock and outrage.
McGolrick Park, as is often the case, has seen better days.
Following a slew of vandalism in the last week, McGolrick Park now sits shrouded by darkness after a group of teenagers set fire to the maintenance building, stripping the park of its electricity. The blackout, coupled with the teen gang’s vicious vandalism campaign, has led residents to steer clear of Greenpoint’s once “lovely, pretty refuge.”
On the Street
As Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP Architects, was unveiling the Southside Williamsburg master plan they designed for Two Trees, he evoked the image of Manhattan’s skyline. “Just like in the dead center of New York,” he told the assembled group of reporters, “we have this parabolic moment—there’s this moment of exuberance that happens” as Read More
on the waterfront
They’re not against housing the homeless per se, but Milton Street residents just feel that some other block or some other neighborhood would be a better choice, a more appropriate choice.
“I’m not against the homeless having someplace to go, but not like this,” Don Stella told The Brooklyn Paper, differentiating himself from those who believe the homeless should not, in fact, have someplace to go.
It was about this time last year that The Observer had first heard that Greenpoint Landing, the just gigantic 10-building development at the mouth of Newtown Creek, was about to come back to life after having been forgotten following the building boom and subsequent collapse in North Brooklyn. “The project has been there a long time, but now the market is finally there,” one of the people involved in the project said at the time. It was predicted buildings would begin rising this year.
But here we are in October with nothing to show for it. Well, nothing but a blog post from Greenpointers hearing that work may just be beginning. The evidence? A message from the local councilman’s office and the apparent departure of the boardwalk from Boardwalk Empire that has been on one of the lots since the show debuted. But it’s true. While a year later than promised, The Observer has confirmed that the project is again underway.
Do you live in Fort Greene? Enjoy sipping seasonal cocktails outside of Roman’s, playing fetch with your dog in Fort Greene park, bragging to all your friends about how low key and undiscovered and underrated Fort Greene is? Well, if you rent you should probably start skimming the real estate listings right now, as Fort Greene has been declared Brooklyn’s most livable neighborhood by The L Magazine.
Of course, its hard to tell if readers of the hipster glossy will take the ranking to heart, following the prevailing counter cultural fashions of the day, or if they will display a contrarian streak, as they are sometimes wont to do, and seek out the next industrial wasteland to remake in their tattooed image.
Last night, Word Books in Greenpoint hosted the first anniversary party for Emily Books, the “online indie bookstore” that functions like a book of the month club, run by Emily Gould and Ruth Curry. As guests sipped boxed wine, Ms. Gould switched the official Emily Books mixtape (some choice selections: Dinosaur Jr.’s “Puke and Cry,” Tegan and Sara’s “Burn Your Life Down”) to a more upbeat playlist featuring L’Trimm and Peaches. At 7:30, Word events manager Jenn Northington took the stage to apologize for the delay, and to point out the free condoms whose wrappers bore the cover design of Emily Books’ September pick, Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger.
Big, fluffy Bob Ross clouds hung over the Manhattan skyline yesterday afternoon, in full view from one of the best vantage points in the city to view them: Greenpoint’s new Transmitter Park. Almost perfectly parallel with the Empire State Building, the park provides an unparalleled panorama of Midtown and the rest of Manhattan.
Mayor Bloomberg and his Parks Commissioner Veronica White had crossed the river not only to take in the scene but also cut the ribbon on the 1.6-acre, $12 million project. It was Ms. White‘s first official public appearance after replacing Adrian Benepe, who had been in the job since 2001. It was her coming out, if a quiet one, with limited fanfare and few workers. Just another day on the job.
“Our administration has been revitalizing old infrastructure and recasting it in new ways that makes sense for New Yorkers today,” the mayor said proudly, pointing to the success of other projects like the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park as well.
But unlike those open space developments, heralded the world over, the waterfront of Williamsburg and Greenpoint has long languished.