Preservationists are hopeful their pictures tell the city a thousand reasons to extend the Carroll Gardens Historic District.
The photographs, which catalogue the entirety of the neighborhood, are part of what the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will use to determine whether to expand the district, an initiative that continues to generate controversy.
“Most of the neighborhood is worthy of being in a historic district,” said Brooklyn Preservation Council founder Bob Furman. “Just walk up and down the streets, there are a lot of remarkable buildings,” he said.
And he’s photographed them all, he said, roughly 5,000 in total, thanks to a $7,000 grant Furman won last year from then-City Councilmember Bill de Blasio.
The survey has been submitted to Landmarks, whose spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon, said the agency is reviewing the materials, and has no other news at this time.
Glenn Kelly, chair of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Associations Land Use Committee said the hope is that Landmarks uses the pictures to “provide us with feedback,”and ultimately determine which blocks are viable. The civic group has been supportive of the expansionist movement, arguing that it adds a layer of protection against wildly out of scale development that ignores the neighborhood’s particular aesthetic.
But John Esposito, a leading opponent and lifelong Carroll Gardens resident and business owner, said elderly homeowners will be disproportionately impacted if the district is expanded. “They won’t be able to afford to do the upkeep.” That in turn, will force out the few remaining blue collar families and old timers, many of whose voices remain stifled in this debate, he said.
“This is just a land grab,” said Esposito. “They already [landmarked] Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope. How much more do you need?” he wondered.
The neighborhood’s historic district currently includes 149 buildings in an area bounded by President, Carroll, Smith and Hoyt streets.
Life long local resident Celia Cacace said Carroll Gardens — South Brooklyn, to old-timers — has done just fine without having its historic district expanded. “Look around, do you see burned out, abandoned buildings? The extra protection isn’t necessary,” she said, adding that a neighborhood-wide downzoning already affords ample protection.