Early this week, we got word that a four-story warehouse on Norman and Henry St is being converted into a hotel by architect, Robert Scarano. The Department of Buildings approved the most recent plan on 5/8, which is a less than a year since the owner began evicting tenants.
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 →
With the proposed ten luxury high rises coming to Greenpoint, adding over 5000 new homes to the area, nearby residents of The Greenpoint Hotel currently live in deplorable conditions. With rents on the rise, are low income residents being victimized by landlords looking to cash in on valuable real estate?
It ain’t the Greenpoint depicted in Girls – that’s for sure.
In 2006, the NY Times described the The Greenpoint Hotel on Manhattan Ave, reporting that the “hallways stink of marijuana and urine; the bathrooms – one per floor – are caked in dirt, and hot water is rare. The front desk is barricaded shut with sheets of plywood. Theft and violence are a constant threat.” Since then, not much has changed.
Last week a public walk thru took place after 30 residents of this Single Room Occupancy (SRO) had their first court appearance to file a law suit to address violations, which were described in a Greenline article in December to include, mold, rats, sporadic heat and hot water and electrical issues. Since then, none of the issues have been addressed by the landlord.
Advocating for the residents, Greg Hanlon of St. Nicks Alliance provided us with photos from the walk thru and the following statement:
The situation at 1109 Manhattan is an egregious and unconscionable example of what has become a common trend in North Brooklyn: Unscrupulous landlords’ forcing out longtime tenants by any means possible, so that they can make more money from their buildings. In some cases, it’s harassment and intimidation; in some, neglect. In this case, it’s both.
These tenants pay around $250 to $350 a month. We’re talking about prime real estate in Greenpoint, a stone’s throw away from the proposed Greenpoint Landing Development, which will have ripple effects on property values throughout the neighborhood. Tenants have told us that the landlord, Jay Deutchman, is trying to sell the building. It’s not too hard to see what’s going on here, and what Mr. Deutchman’s motivations are.
Along with St. Nick’s Alliance, Council Member Stephen Levin was at the walk thru and had this to say:
For years, the Greenpoint Hotel has been a haven for miserable living conditions. Rats, broken toilets, and collapsing ceilings have become a part of everyday life at the Hotel so that the landlord can vacate the building and sell it.
We cannot allow this to happen in our city. No New Yorker should be taken advantage of like this. No New Yorker should be subjected to live in this type of environment. That’s why I have called HPD repeatedly to complain about the state of the building and commend the legal action taken on behalf of the residents to make sure these conditions do not persist.
It’s fortunate that the residents of The Greenpoint Hotel have spoken up and sought help. We hope we can count on our public leaders to help improve conditions there and be an advocate for other Greenpointers in similar situations.
With housing prices on the rise in Greenpoint, will more low-income residents be mistreated like by landlords who want to raise rent? Have you or your neighbors been the victim of such neglect?
Swanky and chic are words that aren’t in my vocabulary. It’s probably why I moved to Greenpoint. On November 1st, the Hotel Williamsburg (not to be confused with the Greenpoint Hotel) opened up on No. 12th near the McCarren Park tennis courts. I wondered if it was an actual hotel or more condos. We joked on a dog walk that we should dress up in our fancies and have a cocktail in the beautiful downstairs bar we saw by pressing our faces up against the window.
What do you know? They invited me over for a cocktail and a tour of the hotel. I parked my little red bike right out front (no valet needed) and entered the lobby check-in bar which leads to one of the hotel’s main attractions in the courtyard: a heated salt water swimming pool. Jamie, sales coordinator and tour guide (and total sweetheart) insisted the light up cubes in the yard be turned on. Hotel patrons along owners of the “Residences,” the condos affiliated with the hotel, share the pool and other hotel facilities. A few “day passes” will also be available to outside guests and a taco truck will set-up in the warm weather.
I had a whole list of questions: how will the hotel serve the community? Who is your target demographic? How does it retain the character of the neighborhood? But I have to admit, I was speechless when Jamie took me up to the 8th Fl rooftop bar named The Watering Tower, with amazing city views. The bar will be open to the public by Spring if you want to get your swank on and for all you arty hipsters, they will have cans of PBR. I laughed out loud to that.
The hotel rooms looked like demo rooms for the new condos in the neighborhood, with a warmer feel and plushy beds. Each room comes with a vintage Crosley record player and a mini-bar stocked with goodies from local favorites like Ovenly baked goods and Brooklyn Brewery. Supporting local producers is a good thing.
And who stays at the Hotel Williamsburg? It’s not the “hip” young folk but their parents who don’t want to sleep on the pull-outs. Jamie also explained that local businesses like Greenpoint Pictures, VICE, Tandem and Pop-Gun, fill the rooms with film and music industry people. Jaimie said that the hotel identifies with the “fashion forward music scene” and will sponsor the upcoming Northside Festival.
Then it was cocktail time! Oh wait, how will the hotel serve the community? The most obvious way is by sending lodgers to local businesses, like 5 Leaves, The Manhattan Inn, Lobster Shack and Nights & Weekends to name a few in Greenpoint. Jamie keeps a few favorites, like No Name Bar, to himself. I have to admit, I had to ask this as a follow-up question via email because the cocktails and the great company made me lose track of the interview. Jamie wrote back: “As Brooklyn’s first full-service urban retreat, we plan on boosting tourism to Williamsburg, Greenpoint … It is our goal to highlight the beauty and authenticity of the neighborhood, along with the artisans and creatives who have shaped it into what it is today.”
Now it’s cocktail time? Yes! Maddie, the friendly bartender served me an outstanding classic Sazerac, and for Jamie a signature “White Sparrow,” made with Champagne, Lemon, Spiced Rum & Velvet Falernum. I normally stay away from champagne cocktails but this was perfect, spicy but light. (Mixology video to follow.) Maddie told me her favorite spots in Greenpoint are St. Vitus and Calyer. And she is going to come as a special guest judge when we do the Greenpointers Cocktail Tour!
While sitting at the bar, which could easily be in Manhattan by the looks of it, and chatting with Jamie and Maddy, I forgot why I was there. What makes the Hotel Williamsburg a Brooklyn hotel (on the border of Greenpoint in the 11249 area code) isn’t the swanky fanciness, but the down to earth people who run the place, who treat you like you’re a guest in their neighborhood, which they are proud of, an experience that might be hard to find in Manhattan.
And that fancy bar we were peeking into is a restaurant called Pillar & Plough, where I look forward to dining and reviewing, so stay tuned.