Watch Out CitiStorage. Eminent Domain Wants to Head Your Way!

Future Bushwick Inlet Park

Let me tell you Greenpointers, it’s no fun being the bearer of bad news. And yet here I am, again, to warn you about the latest doozy to hit Bushwick Inlet Park. If there was ever a time to bust out the Pepto Bismol its now, because what I’m about to tell you ain’t gonna be easy to digest.

North Brooklyners have put up a good fight so far. We’ve overflowed City Hall, rallied on Kent Street, and now we are urging Governor Cuomo to save the last precious bit of open space were we promised over 10 fricking years ago. And yet at every turn, nefarious forces have come out of the fold, hell-bent on building two more towers on the charred remains of the CitiStorage site.

The latest proponent for such a real estate deal comes from none other than our own former Public Advocate, and current Mayor, Mr. Bill DeBlasio and his side kick, Parks Commisioner, Mitch Sliver.

After months hearing nothing but crickets from City Hall about upholding their 10 year old, 28 acre waterfront park promise, Parks Commissioner Silver finally broke the silence. At a recent City Council meeting, he uttered the words we’ve all been dreading, “We’re committed to moving on the pieces we have right now… There are currently no acquisition dollars to acquire the CitiStorage site.”

Pop goes the weasel

According to a recent NYTimes article, “the city has spent some $225 million — and still has not acquired all the property. That figure already surpasses the High Line’s cost to taxpayers, and the whole park threatens to approach the amount paid for Hudson River Park, which covers 550 acres and is four miles long.”

Now you might ask: How is it possible for the city to spend so much on Bushwick Inlet Park when as of now is just a few measly acres? Well, if you ignore the rigged 2005 rezoning or rumors that the London Stock Exchange is hedging bets on Bushwick Inlet Park’s fate, then I urge you to stick closer to home and point your eyes to our latest profiteer leading the charge on the waterfront—none other than  CitiStorage owner himself, Norman Brodsky.

Precious, my precious. Norman Brodsky contemplates how to spend his multimillion dollar payday. Photo credit: Buck Ennis via Crain's
Precious, my precious. Norman Brodsky contemplates how to spend his multimillion dollar payday. Photo credit: Buck Ennis via Crain’s

The last time Greenpointers checked-in, Mr. Brodsky was twirling his precious pinky ring and exalting to the world his 11 acre industrial zoned lot was worth a mind-boggling $500 MILLION dollars.  Insert a bellowing laugh and anyone can see the epic LOR-esque battle mounting on our waterfront.

Cut to: Team Saruman scorches Isengard with dollars signs in the eyes while North Brooklynites muster strength to fight for a 10 year old promised park in an area that rightfully deserves it and desperately needs it.

Given the infographic below, it’s pretty clear why North Brooklyn needs parkland so badly. This isn’t just a fight for a park, it’s a fight for public health.

GP Open Space

Time for a reality check

While Mr. Brodsky’s half a billion dollar price tag is painfully steep for sure, rest assured we’re not the only ones whose eyes are bleeding due to the lack of oxygen. Like hungry sharks circling the tank, even big investment firms have cut his stratospheric valuation in half to $250 million–which is still over 3 times the actual value for an industrial zoned lot.

A latest report from Curbed informs us, “Investment firms Midtown Equities and East End Capital currently have a deal in place to buy the site, which sits in between other sites that the city has purchased as potential parkland, making it difficult for the city to complete the park.”

If eminent domain is left out of this discussion, then we can wave bye-bye to Bushwick Inlet Park forever and say hello to two new shiny apartment towers. If we’re lucky, our promised park will be a blade of grass or two.

Good news, the fight is not over yet

Lucky for us, North Brooklyn has got some serious muscle on our side. State and local officials have jumped on board and are taking a firm stance with the city to make good on its promise. They have busted out their light sabers and their pens to draft a Senate bill urging the State to move forward with an eminent domain takeover of the CitiStorage site. With the announcement of a $5 billion surplus in the State and City budgets, eminent domain can be feasible without breaking taxpayers backs.

So what can we do to help? Signing this petition is a start, but picking up the horn and urging Governor Cuomo to support Senate bill S5885-2015 authorizing the State to use eminent domain procedures against  Norman Brodsky’s property will be even more effective.

Seriously it’ll take a minute of your time. Don’t piss it away.  Call this number now (518)-474-8390 and say: Gov. Cuomo, please support Senate bill S5885-2015  which allows eminent domain to acquire land not yet acquired by the city to complete the full 28 acre Bushwick Inlet Park. 

It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, folks. So let’s clog up Governor Cuomo’s phone lines and make him do the right thing. Our neighborhood deserves it, don’t you think?

About Kim M

Kim is a native New Yorker, local activist and writer. When she's not writing books or playing Erin Brockovich with her Save Greenpoint peeps, you will see her whipping around Greenpoint on her bike, chatting it up with folks, and sharing stories about what it is about her hometown that makes life worth living. Follow her on twitter @kimasson or www.kimmassonwrites.com

19 Comments

  1. Concerned Resident says:

    Be very careful what you wish for Greenpoint. Eminent domain against one person, quickly can turn to the next. Soon the city may just want to take your apartment, your house, your business, your property. When you set a precedent, it effects the future and everyone else. If they do it to Norm, what stops them from doing it whenever they want?

    And look what happened last time eminent domain took place… by law it goes to an arbitration hearing… and whatever that judge rules, is what the city then would be forced to pay. Be it $250-500 million OR more.

    Taxes are high enough in this city, really out of control to be honest, and they can not be raised further to cover a park.

    Don’t make others poor so you get a park!! Fixed incomes don’t change just because outsiders want to move to the neighborhood. Just wait till the shoe drops and it happens to you.

    Reply
    • Teo says:

      Don’t be delusional, “concerned”: Not any of us owns a property that the city promised to us, the people that makes the city a city, to turn into a more that grossly overdue park; only your pal Norm does.

      Reply
      • Concerned Resident says:

        You are wrong. Many people own property in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, and have for 30-40 years. Kicking industry out for parks, restaurants, bars, shopping and apartments is criminal.

        Reply
        • Teo says:

          Don’t tell me that I’m wrong just because your argument is painted you into a corner.

          Yes, many people own property in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, but that doesn’t mean that the city is going to kick them out just because they do, as you seem to believe. And, as a matter of fact, I think there’s a pretty good chance that many of them will wished the city had done just that when this speculation bubble bursts –you know, we will run out of wealthy people wanting to move to our hood sooner or later.

          Reply
    • rudeboynyc says:

      The walling in of the waterfront continues! we need a re-zoning for flood zone A or evoke eminent domain!
      300+ feet to the waterfront should have designated to park and potential wetlands!

      But greed and corruption always wins in NYC over common sense!
      Towers should have been staggered further inland, complemented by enough parks and public spaces. Not to speak of the necessary infrastructure…

      Most importantly:
      Stop privatizing all these humongous windfall profits!!! And then complain that you don’t have the money to buy back land (for the promised Bushwick Inlet Park extension for example, or for childcare facilities or schools.
      BEFORE any new rezoning, NYC should buy all land, if necessary invoke eminent domain and compensate the landowners for the current market value.
      As a compromise, NYC could split the difference and collect a 50% windfall profit tax!
      That’s a win/win!
      Instead they allow raping the waterfront for a sliver of “affordable housing” and tremendous tax breaks!

      Reply
  2. GPSteve says:

    The eminent domain use mentioned in the State bill is very specific in detailing and targeting the CitiStorage property and nothing else. It was drafted by our local reps as a last resort in Albany because the de Blasio administration refuses to even discuss the issue with them, our local city council member, nor the community. This week the City announced they have a $3billion budget surplus. The state has a $2billion surplus. Together they could make this happen without effecting taxes. Many of the folks behind making this park a reality have lived in the neighborhood for decades along with newer residents. We all want to create open space for current and future generations. The 2005 rezoning plan included creating this park to mitigate the tens of thousands of residents and towers that have emerged as a result. It’s a moral issue to create this park to improve quality of life for everyone. Also, those land value numbers are being thrown around by the property owner and real estate rags.

    Reply
    • Concerned Resident says:

      GPSteve,
      While the bill introduced in Albany may currently state they will only eminent domain CitiStorage today… that will not stop it from reoccurring in 25 or 50 years. Again, you do it once, there is no reason for it to not happen again. What prevents them for going after the 67 West Street building next, for example?? Opening Pandora’s Box when you start doing this. Taking property/land from others NEVER ends well. Throughout history of mankind. Dating thousands of years. Not once.
      ——-
      And with the surplus of money you say the city has, it should be lowering taxes then. Letting citizens keep the extra money in their own pockets. And lets not even talk about the roads/bridges/tunnels/subways/schools/post offices/fire stations/hospitals that all need MAJOR improvement and construction done. The surplus money should be going to that, not a park.
      ——–
      The goal of Greenpoint should be to keep industry. Factories, machine shops, heavy steel work, ship building. THAT is Greenpoint. 35 years after I came here, this is not what was supposed to happen. Greenpoint should not be advocating for parks, bars, shops, restaurants, or any more residents at all, nor a reason for people to want to come here. This area is for 18-wheel trucks, major contractors and the industry that helps keep NYC afloat and moving. Push it out of the city, further from where it is needed, just watch as the taxes and prices skyrocket. The goal of GP should be to keep heavy industry & limit the people moving here.

      Reply
      • Teo says:

        You need to get your argument straight. Do you want more residents to come to Greenpoint or not? If you don’t, then you rather have a park than another complex of apartment towers, which is what will happen to that land if we leave it in the hands of speculators. And whereas you might be right that we need more and better infrastructure, we foremost need to be able to fucking breath –or is it that you think that the city was promising the park out of the goodness of its heart? It promised it because it was way fucking overdue even without all the people they envisioned populating the hood.

        The quality of life of the many is far more important than the economic progress of the already wealthy. That should be obvious to anyone living in a democracy.

        Reply
        • Concerned Resident says:

          @Teo… Wrong!!! I don’t want people OR a park. I want factories and industry!!! I want the Navy Yard back in operation, I want Domino Sugar back, I want the bag factories, I want Hunters Point Steel back. I want to see 18 wheelers and major construction vehicles bringing supplies to build this great city.

          And 35 years ago, that park was not promised. This was a blue-collar area of NYC that was full of day laborers & immigrants who would work all day, then leave when it got dark.

          Leaving it a storage building is EXACTLY what I want. I want more and more and more storage buildings and factories. I want the welders, the plumbers, the mechanics, the seamstresses to all come back.

          Not parks, not residential. You zone everything Industrial, and neither can come.

          Reply
          • Teo says:

            I hear you, CR. You “want to see 18 wheelers and major construction vehicles bringing supplies to build this great city”? You make me remember when I was 7 y.o., and I asked Santa for a yellow excavator. I had such a great time with it…

            But anyway, if that’s what you want, you go to Commercial St to watch Brooklyn biggest land development take place. And if you don’t want more residents, I hope you were amongst of those who fight it some months ago. As it was, Bloomberg and all his deep pocket pals had their way, so now we have to try to make the best we can with the leftovers.

            Thousands of new residents are adding themselves to the ones already here. Very little is being done to upgrade the infrastructure to maintain them. It makes one wonder where will they park their cars, for example. And then you want to have your 18 wheeler on top of that. I guess you buy a lot of groceries.

            You want factories and industry back in the area. They’re not coming back. Not only land speculators made sure of that, but if they did, workers couldn’t afford to live here — just like it will happen to the service people catering to all of our ex-major’s “Russian billionaires”.

            Wake up, dude. You want 18 wheelers? I want to breathe.

  3. Danny-O says:

    Ummm, how is it Brodsky can be allowed to sell his property when the FDNY still hasn’t revealed who or what set off the 7 alarm fire? For all we know it could’ve been arson. I know we live in an amnesia state, but wtf, why isn’t anyone talking about this piece of the puzzle?!

    Reply
    • concerned resident says:

      It was arson!!!
      This has already happened before in Greenpoint.
      Burning buildings down b/c they cant always get what they want.
      My bet it was someone who wanted that park bad enough, they’d commit a crime to try and make it happen… or they paid off a homeless person again. Just like last time.

      Reply
  4. gee me says:

    Corruption at it’s finest. The residents are coming- just refer to the upcoming Dubai north of Greenpoint Ave. The industry that once was in Greenpoint making it creative, productive and useful is now unfortunately following the same trend as wburg: more bars, more service economy, more condo towers void of life at street level and designed for elite.

    This park is a small attempt to make it halfway livable here for all. 5000 new homes are already coming-where will they be able to actually live and exercise and at least try to be healthy? The whole transportation dilemma is another mystery.

    Reply
  5. North says:

    Wow! So Greenpointers is now silencing and disallowed comments of those in Greenpoint/Williamsburg who do not want a park.

    Talk about taking away the freedom of speech and opinion.

    What a sad day for the city and humanity in general when censorship occurs at the most basic of levels. How many more posts will you delete that bring up the negative aspects of what’s happening? Will this even see the light of day? Or will you silence another? You should be ashamed editor.

    Reply
    • Kim M says:

      Wow. North cool your jets dude. No censorship going on. Some people have lives and are not strapped to the computer on Friday evening. Chill out!

      And btw, how would you know if I was censoring or not given this is your only comment? Please stop trolling here or anywhere else on this site.

      Reply
  6. dave says:

    I tend to side with Concerned Resident, and I hope that Greenpoint will somehow hold onto it’s roots. But I would rather see one big beautiful park than a couple more residential highrises with some bars and shops and restaurants attached ..

    Reply
  7. trollseverywhere says:

    Eminent domain is of course the solution here.

    The entire idea of “promising” a park is ridiculous – Bloomberg should have actually taken action. It is now the job of those in power to correct that error. The owner of the decrepit storage facility that was recently torched will make out a nice tidy profit far beyond what was paid, the neighborhood will receive the needed greenspace, and everyone will be happy.

    If you are not happy with this arrangement it is for reasons far beyond the actual actions being discussed – maybe you should focus on the real reasons for your opposition and stop trying to make this issue a symbolic war against whatever the hell you have stuck in your craw.

    Reply
  8. I made a documentary on the history and future of Bushwick Inlet in 2011. The issues are still exactly the same (but boy, does the neighborhood look ‘old’ in the movie!)
    If you’re interested, you can watch it here:
    https://youtu.be/JZuzMxGTJ1U
    Or from the movie’s website:
    https://bushwickcreek.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  9. geology is cool says:

    wouldn’t this property have to go through a ulurp again if it were to be rezoned for residential? what fool would allow for that to happen? according to the Environmental Review, the 2005 Rezone combined with the Affordable Housing Bonus Incentive expected to reduce Greenpoint’s open space to person ratio by -12.9%. the city shouldn’t have to pay for Brodsky’s gamble on fools. Why isn’t he paying taxes on a supposed 1/2 billion buckaroos market value???

    w/o intending on sounding like soviet propaganda, are there not more beautiful/useful utilitarian projects that would be better suited for this location? something that doesn’t contribute to high vacancy rates, ie the real estate bubble?

    Reply

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