Local activists are asking if the destruction of three beloved Bay Ridge Victorian homes is the beginning of a broader trend. Well, this columnist has an answer — let’s hope so!
And while were at, let’s take down the whole Victorian mindset!
For those of you who don’t spend your free time trolling through the blogosphere, the controversy centers around the destruction of three beautiful Victorian homes on 74th Street between Third and Fourth avenues.
Residents were shocked — and for good reason.
That’s because the Basile Builders Group, which purchased the three properties at 318, 326, and 334, told the public last August that they had no appetite for destruction, but were only intent on restoring the Victorians to their former glory.
That was, of course, before last week when the company demolished all three — which is when this dust-up predictably went nuclear.
Mushroom clouds sprouted all over city blogs, many predicting doom.
“A community that isn’t organized enough to make a stink is what killed these Victorians, plain and simple,” posted one blogger on Curbed, a real-estate site. “The neighborhood will continue to be prey until the residents get together and pester the elected officials to get some protection placed on the area.”
A call was out for government intervention.
But while residents were busy pointing the finger at greedy developers, buyers, sellers and local pols, one community official blamed something else — that pesky little document called the Constitution.
“A lot of people called and were angry that we weren’t doing something to stop the demolition,” said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “But we checked that the owners [got] the proper permits, so there isn’t anything else we can do because it is private property.”
What a concept!
That’s right, private property gives owners the right to destroy their own property, even if we really really don’t want them to. This law even applies in Bay Ridge, where anti-development attitudes still rule.
That’s why this columnist finds reason to gloat in a rare case where the mob loses and freedom wins.
It’s not that Yellow Hooker is a heartless monster or that he gets satisfaction out of other people’s misery (seriously, I don’t). But I do happen to believe that property rights are more important than almost any other freedom.
It is also noteworthy that the vast majority of residents who oppose development are the ones who already own property. This means they are the ones who stand to gain financially by curbing the housing supply.
Meanwhile, renters and those looking to own — the two groups with little power in such matters — have learned the painful lesson of economics: the less housing available, the higher the prices for it.
The good news is not that the Victorians are gone, but that more housing will rise from their rubble. That’s progress.
Matthew Lysiak is a writer living in Bay Ridge. Please send your inevitable hate mail to newsroom@B
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