Alls everyone talks about these days in Greenpoint (aside from the $10 lattes) are the rent hikes that leave residents and businesses with no other option than to move out or close-up shop.
“It’s everybody’s story,” Rob Maher of Unleash said after making the decision to close his Franklin St boarding and daycare facility after serving the community for 5 years. When his lease option came up for renewal, the new price his landlord offered was “not an option to renew,” he said.
Now he must find homes for 6 rescue dogs.
Rob will transform his business model into a walking / pet-sitting service. Brooklyn Waggers will operate out of District Dog (142 Driggs Ave) – the pet store he continues to operate with his family in #OSOM (other side of McGuinness).
It isn’t his business he is worried about, though.
“My biggest concern are the rescues,” Rob said. It’s the remaining unadopted pooches that he must place in foster or forever homes (or pay to board) by the end of March. He asked Greenpointers to “step up” and give these remaining pups a chance at a better life.
If you can’t foster or adopt – make a donation to Dog Habitat or come to a fundraiser tomorrow evening at Rosamund Sausage Grill where you can drink Ace Cider, eat sausages and enter a silent auction.
The beauty of Dog Habitat, the animal rescue arm of his operation, is that in combination with the boarding facility it allowed Rob and his team to socialize pups who may have been victims of neglect or abuse. He will continue to operate the dog rescue with the help of fosters homes.
Not all can be fully rehabilitated. Take for instance Reese (pictured above with Rob) – who was found tied up across the street from Unleash.
“He would have died if we hadn’t taken him,” Unleash manager Meg said.
Reese had open wounds resulting from an attack or dog fight. Reese was rehabilitated and adopted and was doing great for over a year in his new home until his owner bought a new pup. The two didn’t get along and Reese was returned to Dog Habitat. He has come a long way, but can’t live in a multi-pet home.
“He’s too much dog,” Rob said, who won’t “haphazardly” give Reese to just anyone. This goes for the other special needs rescues. Maybe you are special enough to give one a chance?
Meg, who Rob said, “runs this place,” said she wouldn’t have managed the boarding facility for over 3 1/2 years if not for the rescue division. She said it’s going to be “weird” to not work on Franklin St but the “hardest part” will be not having the rescue pups to cuddle with on a daily basis. Meg started working at Unleash the day she moved to NY and will continue to manage Brooklyn Waggers and Dog Habitat.
What will replace Unleash? It’s tough to say but Rob believes that the rent hikes are in anticipation of the new towers coming to the waterfront and that we will see many more businesses closing as the towers are built and leases come up for renewal.
It isn’t bad for all businesses, though. “Certain businesses can sustain,” Rob said, “like bars and coffee shops.” He continued that, “it’s good for the community in certain ways. It will open up the waterfront. From a population perspective, it’s not great. It will be bad for commuters with 10,000 new residents using the G train.”
Meg, whose sister was priced out of the neighborhood, added that she doesn’t think the new towers coming are a good thing for Greenpoint.
“It’s the same story all over NYC. It brings in a lot of money, but it’s not helping the neighborhood. I can’t afford most of the restaurants in Greenpoint. I don’t go to Alameda or Anella. I do go to Habitat, which is ‘afforadablish,’ and pay $8 for a beer because I love the neighborhood and the locals,” she said, but more often she hangs out in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy.
And even though Rob said he will “miss this place,” he admits that he “saw it coming” and that he is “personally relieved to be on other side of McGuinness Blvd when the towers do come.”
Please consider adopting, fostering or making a donation to Dog Habitat – because dogs can’t pay their own rent.