The sun sets over Eagle St., a gorgeous view soon to be obscured by the mega-development of the Greenpoint waterfront. (Photo: Ava Capote/BQ Brew)
Residents in the north Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint have been getting screwed for decades. The only thing that seems to change is the ones doing the screwing. From the 30 million gallon Exxon oil spill that was discovered in the late 70's and was largely ignored until a 2012 settlement of nearly $20 million for clean up and community development, to the constant polluting of the Newtown Creek that has resulted in it being declared a superfund site by the EPA.
The most recent predators? The gentrifying real estate developers who are forcing Greenpoint's working and middle class families out of their homes.
The most recent push to overshadow the rich and vibrant middle class vibe is the proposed development of Greenpoint's waterfront. The City of New York, along with the Park Tower Group, are attempting to create a neighborhood within a neighborhood to be known as Greenpont Landing. It will take up 22 acres of waterfront property and include 10 high-rise (30 to 40 story) towers, a park and a 640-seat school.
Park Tower Group's CEO George Klein, has already spent nearly $12,000 in campaign contributions this election cycle, including $2500 to developer-friendly Councilwoman Christine Quinn (running for mayor) and $5000 to developer-friendly Councilman Dan Garodnick (currently running for comptroller). Since 2009, Klein has made over $25,000 in campaign contributions to various politicians across NYC. Before that Klein, was a generous supporter of tyrant-mayor Rudy Giuliani, who sold 80% of city-owned abandoned housing stock to precisely developers like Park Towers Group (and their Wall Street backers). But Klein and Park Tower Group's designs for the huge, intrusive Greenpoint project are meeting a lukewarm reception at best on the local level.
At a Community Board 1 meeting, details on the project were vague. It was made clear that the developers still do not own the air rights above one plot of land located at 65 Commercial St., a legal necessity before erecting buildings as high as Park Towers has promised.
Some 6,100 housing units will be available if this current plan continues to fruition. However, only 631 of those units will be designated as "affordable," a problem that concerns many long time residents. Especially concerning is developers' tendency to not come through on their affordable housing promises and NYC's seeming unwillingness to force developers to comply.
The 2005 zoning changes.
In 2005, when the rezoning of north Brooklyn's waterfront occurred, the city promised 3,500 affordable housing units would be built. Since that time, only about one third have been made available
Another serious concern that hasn't been addressed by city officials is what affect the influx of nearly 12,000 new residents will have on mass transit. Greenpoint's main subway line is the notorious G, known for being unreliable and over crowded.
When asked about the impact on mass transit at the CB1 meeting, city officials said they'd need to conduct studies to see what solution would best work for Greenpoint residents. Translation: we don't know.
Greenpoint was once called the Garden Spot of the World. With oversized buildings popping up all over the place, our garden spots, namely parks, are noticeably more crowded already. Ten 30 story buildings will definitely have a negative affect on existing park space. And yet Greenpoint Landing's plan includes only 2 very small public parks.
The concern most Greenpointers seem to have is a simple one. Sunlight.
Ten monstrous buildings put along the water means that most current residents will be cast into the shadows of Greenpoint Landing. The sun that lit the gardens that made Greenpoint so welcoming to families from across the city will soon be disappearing behind a phalanx of high-rise buildings.
It leaves one to wonder if the 1%ers that now dominate New York City think the middle and working classes don't deserve the simple pleasure of sunlight in their communities. It appears the families of Greenpoint, on the other hand, are not ready, or willing, to give up their days in the sun.
-- Ava Capote --
Computer Rendering of Greenpoint Landing, the enormous development planned by Park Tower Group. In the neighborhood once known as The Garden Spot of the World, sunlight may soon be a resource preserved for those wealthy enough to buy into the mastedonic Greenpoint Landing.