The name Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) is legendary in urban planning and in the last year of her life, Jacobs had a prescient warning about the future of our waterfront in Brooklyn. Her 2005 letter about plans to develop the local waterfront is so timely that it seems like it could have been written today.Jacobs was a revolutionary urbanist and activist whose groundbreaking writings championed a community-based approach to urban development and renewal. Although She had no formal training as a planner, her seminal 1961 work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is considered something of a bible amongst urbanists. In the book, Jacobs proposed novel ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail, that were groundbreaking then, but today seem obvious to generations of architects, urban planners, politicians and activists. Once a year in May, her contributions to cities are recalled on Jane’s Day when people around the world organize walks in cities.
In 2005, shortly before her own death, the legendary urbanist weighed in on the renewal of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront in a letter addressed to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She advocated for the adoption of a community-sponsored development plan that was ultimately not adopted. In her letter, she warned that developers outside the community would take advantage of the rezoning of the East River waterfront to serve their own interests by building high rises and by gentrifying the area so that working class people would be pushed out. Jacobs’ letter contrasted the local community’s plan for the area versus the developer-friendly rezoning that ultimately was adopted. 13 years later her warnings have proven valid. It is amazing how timely Jacobs’ letter still feels today. Continue reading →
Since last Thursday’s meeting, many of you have written me personally expressing concerns about Nuhart’s status and what it means for the hood when a Superfund cleans up its act and turns into an “affordable luxury condo building”. Sadly, what is happening at Nuhart is not an April Fool’s joke.
Well, I have good and bad news to report about our darling little Superfund. I suggest we bust out our hazmat suits and get suited up. I’m going to take us into the trenches and talk about toxic plumes.
Yes, you read that correctly. There are TWO plumes at Nuhart, not one.
Got your suit zipped and your mask on tight? Alright Greenpointers, let’s get dirty and talk toxins. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago we reported a war was brewing at the former CitiStorage site, and while the flames have died down, the heat is on to reclaim our parkland. So Greenpointers got your skewers sharpened yet? If not, you better arm yourselves because it’s roasting time and you’re not going to want miss this.
Our good Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park have declared March 12th as the day we demand the city makes good on its promises to deliver our park according the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning. Some of you maybe thinking–why should we care if the City reneges? The answer doesn’t get more simple than this: If we don’t go to City Hall with our pitchforks and starting screaming like hell, we will be looking at another luxury tower in a only a few short years. Don’t want your promised park hijacked by another bloated developer with dollar signs in his eyes? Yeah, me either.
You see this battle isn’t just about a park or another tower, this is about a promise the City has NO intention of keeping. If there was ever a time to get really pissed, this is it. Continue reading →
A new 7 story residential building is set to replace a vacant warehouse at the northern end of Manhattan Avenue between Box and Clay Streets. The developer, Domain Companies, is planning for 210 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedrooms and 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail along Manhattan Avenue. The project is slated to have an on-site parking garage, rooftop terrace, media & game rooms, fitness center, and a resident lounge with a kitchen. The architect is Perkins Eastman and they are aiming for LEED Silver Certification by incorporating several green building materials. This same architect was responsible for nearby projects 34 Berry and 390 Wythe in Williamsburg.
The project, dubbed ‘1133 Manhattan’, is being developed under Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘New Housing Marketplace Plan’, which was launched in 2004 to help create 165,000 new affordable housing units by the end of 2014. 50% of this project will be set aside for ‘low income’ and ‘middle income’ families. Specifically, 42 units will be reserved for households earning no more than 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) or $29,050 for an individual and 63 of the units will be available to households earning no more than 175% of AMI or $101,675 for an individual. The remaining 50% of the units will be market rate.
The site is currently a vacant, single story warehouse and is the former home of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Railroad car barn. This northern end of Greenpoint is still very quiet, but several large developments are in the works that will dramatically increase the density of the area. The long planned, but yet-to-be-delivered park at 65 Commercial Street will only be a block away. New residents will be able to enjoy neighborhood favorites like Milk and Roses, Champion Coffee, Lobster Joint and Eastern District. Preliminary construction appears to be underway and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014.
What would fellow Greenpointers like to see on this site? Is this project the right use, size and scale?
That was the question on everyone’s mind at Wednesday night’s CB1 public hearing. In part, the public hearing was called to discuss the proposed rezoning of a block-long portion of McGuinness Boulevard from a manufacturing zone to a residential zone with a commercial overlay. This stretch of McGuinness between Calyer & Greenpoint is currently home to a gas station, several auto parts stores, Key Foods and Risqué Billiards. The owner/developer of 209-231 McGuinness– landlord to Risqué Billiards and ‘Strauss Discount Auto Parts’- thinks his site’s highest and best use is a new, 140 unit apartment building. Several members of the community certainly disagreed at the hearing. Continue reading →