This may have happened today in Flushing, Queens, but nevertheless Greenpointers is ON IT. Today, for a mere three hours, visitors were invited into the remnants of the New York State Pavilion. This building is one of the structures remaining from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and is currently in the spotlight as the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair is upon us. It’s also been in the news lately as a variety of restoration efforts are being contemplated.
A black-crowned night heron. Several swallows, cormorants, and geese. One lone white duck. These were some of the birds seen on this Saturday’s canoe trip to Plank Road, which was a collaboration between the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) and the North Brooklyn Boat Club. The paddlers, many out for their first trip on New York’s waterways, remarked on the stunning juxtaposition of active and crumbling industrial sites alongside a very living, if troubled, ecosystem. They traveled up the Newtown Creek and met up with a land-based group to hear from historian Mitch Waxman about this peculiar site that the NCA is looking to revamp in the coming months.
A few seats to my right at the bar, an expensively-dressed middle-aged woman spoke loudly on her smartphone while the stoic waitstaff artfully transferred white beans from a polished steel serving tray to her wide, gleaming white plate. Behind me in a booth, two young men chatted over $20+ appetizers, their old Nike sneakers up on the doeskin-soft leather banquette. At another table, a couple whose combined age I’d place no higher than 30 photographed their dessert, flash on.
These were the patrons with whom I was sharing the subtle ax motif of The Elm, chef Paul Liebrandt’s below-ground restaurant nestled in the foundation of the King and Grove hotel in Williamsburg (160 N 12th St). Continue reading
When your children come in from a long day scavenging for food in the irradiated exurbs and ask for a story while the family is gathered around the meager rubbage fire in the gunshot-punctuated evening, what better one to share than the tale of how you and your partner were first brought together by the barely-functioning totalitarian state?
This is the fairytale romance that you live as a member of the audience at Future Mate, a participatory theater experience that sets you in a wonderfully awkward dating event thrown by a comically despotic government organization seeking to unite the few remaining fertile singles of a fractured world. Continue reading
Bill, I say this as someone who has supported your campaign since before you were thought of as a viable candidate: I have never been closer to voting for your opponent than I am after watching your performance tonight.
Don’t misinterpret that statement: I’m still voting for you. Continue reading
Around six months ago I saw diamond plate going up on a renovated wall at 195 Calyer street, just east of Manhattan avenue. I wrote it off at the time as simply the ugliest siding I had yet seen in a neighborhood that knows its ugly siding.
Katie Garcia, general manager at Captured Tracks records, swears that while their wooden sign may hang over it the label had nothing to do with the diamond plate. Seeing the shop and offices a few steps below it – a bit more tasteful on the whole – I’m inclined to believe her. Continue reading
Four months and twenty days before 11 designers debuted their latest collection on the stage at the venue Villain on North 3rd St for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, garment workers in Bangladesh were ordered to return to work in a building that was already beginning to show signs of structural failure serious enough to keep the other businesses in it shuttered. It collapsed shortly thereafter, causing 1,129 individual humans to be crushed and suffocated by concrete and rubble.
Arthur Arbit, the local tailor who started Williamsburg Fashion Weekend in 2006, opened this year’s event by pointing out that there is no way to produce a $15 blouse for H&M without the garment being soaked in someone’s blood; this year it may be appropriate to adjust that to say that there’s rubble in the pockets of your Levi’s. Arthur’s event provides copious evidence that industrial fashion, although difficult to avoid, is not our only option. Continue reading
On Wednesday’s crisp afternoon, a crowd that estimated itself at somewhere between 65 and 100 gathered to renew the call to action to prevent two (literally) looming developments from progressing without further input from the community. Organized by city council hopeful Stephen Pierson and neighborhood organization Save Greenpoint, the gathering was intended to raise awareness and support for a campaign of legal and community actions intended to prevent or at least stall the currently planned waterfront developments from manifesting in their presently intended forms. Continue reading
When opening a new bar, coming away with a positive experience from a community board meeting presided over by a group hawkishly vigilant of both new liquor licenses and rapidly-vanishing parking spaces is no small feat, especially if in addition to drinks you’re trying to serve up a new pedestrian plaza.
However, sitting down with Etan Fraiman, who recently opened bar/restaurant Battery Harris on the once-desolate corner of Frost & Meeker along with partner David Shapiro, makes it sound like the easiest thing in the world – all you need is a little help from the DOT and a willingness to see your business in the greater context of the streetscape.
The owners of Battery Harris were actually tipped off to the DOT’s Pedestrian Plaza Program by the community board itself, and had nothing but praise for the city agency that not so long ago was referred to by many as “the department of No” for their conservative attitude towards innovation in street design. Continue reading
“We’re creating a neighborhood on the waterfront.”
These were the poorly-chosen words of Melanie Meyers, a representative for the Greenpoint Landing development. She appeared alongside representatives of the development at 77 Commercial Street and from various city agencies before a room filled beyond capacity at the McCarren Recreation Center on Monday evening to present preliminary plans for the developments threatening to deposit over 6,100 units of additional housing upon the north Brooklyn waterfront across the next decade. While it’s unclear what, if any, new information was conveyed to the public at the meeting, the response from the audience was clear: Greenpoint already has a neighborhood, thank you very much.
The details of the developments remained vague on many points, but the general outlines of their deal with the city are coming into focus. In exchange for development rights (purchased for what Ms. Meyers estimated for Greenpoint Landing at $8 million for 295,000 square feet, or about $27 per square foot) Greenpoint will be tossed the proverbial bone in the form of 631 units of affordable housing, 4.5 acres of city-owned park, about 2,000 square feet of publicly-accessible waterfront, and a 640 seat school. Part of this deal involves acquiring air rights from the MTA property at 65 commercial street; in order to use these air rights to build a 30-40 story tower instead of a 15 story tower, 77 Commercial still needs to secure an exception to allow for the soaring heights of R-8 zoning instead of its current R-6.
Aside from clarifications to these numbers, representatives of the developers did not meaningfully answer any questions or address any neighborhood concerns. Chief among those raised was the impending specter of a socioeconomically divided Greenpoint, with the waterfront belonging to the wealthy in towers whose business would be conducted in Manhattan and the rest relegated to their shadows cast on Manhattan Avenue. Transportation, which weighs heavily on the mind of any rush-hour G train commuter, was mentioned but met with a familiar response: we’ll do the studies when required by the development process. All of these non-answers served only to reinforce the main sentiment that this development is incongruous with the neighborhood and is not part of a comprehensive plan but rather is a short-sighted capitalization on valuable, newly-available waterfront.
People seemed dismayed by the lack of clear intentions coming from the developers coupled with a lack of clear leadership from representatives. Stephen Levin, District 33 representative, offered vague advice to ‘organize, organize, organize’ but appeared primarily interested in making it clear to voters that he was not in office when the 2005 rezoning was pushed forward. Similarly, Christopher Olechowski, representing community board 1, made it repeatedly clear that they had rejected in its entirety the development plans for the waterfront only to have them pushed through by the city regardless. If we wish to have a say in anything more meaningful than the placement of a park bench or two, it is clear that we will need to align the powerful undercurrents of resistance felt at this meeting, and do it quickly.
I have done my best to record all numbers accurately as I heard them, but please correct me on any mistaken details.