Greenpoint high-rises don’t fix city’s broken park promises: Neighbors

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The city and the developer of a wall of luxury apartments on the Greenpoint waterfront are holding a long-promised city park for ransom with their claim that they will only make the greenspace nice if two new towers are allowed to rise alongside it, neighbors said at a community meeting Tuesday night.

The city had promised to build — and said it had money to fund — a park at the end of Box Street near Newtown Creek, but construction of the park stumbled many times since it was proposed as part of the massive 2005 Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning.

Now residents are angered that the park’s construction has been tethered to the new 77 Commercial Street project between Box and Clay streets that includes two 30-story towers housing a total of 720 apartments, and even though developers are promising more park space, some neighbors say they do not want the buildings at all.

“We’d rather get less [park space] and not take the trade-off,” Greenpointer Katie Naplatarski said.

Under the proposed plan, developers Waterview at Greenpoint would spend millions of dollars to upgrade the nearby Newtown Barge Park and build the Box Street park, according to city representatives. If the tower plan goes through, both parks will be completed in 2016, according to the city.

But residents are wondering what happened to the money that the city put aside to build the park years ago.

“There was funding for [the park] and it disappeared,” said said Kim Masson, who lives across the street from 77 Commercial Street in a loft building. “It will be there again.”

Representatives of the city and the development company, Waterview at Greenpoint, did not respond directly to the criticism.

The grilling came on the heels of an even larger and more unruly community board meeting held to discuss the behemoth Greenpoint Landing project.

If the city approves both developments as proposed, more than 6,000 apartment units will loom over the Newtown Creek end of the neighborhood — a fact that concerns some Greenpointers.

“The population increase will be staggering,” Masson said.

Neighbors also expressed concerns about toxins that could be lying in wait at the 77 Commercial site — as well as the Greenpoint Landing site — since the city has not conducted an environmental impact study on those sites in nearly a decade.

The community board will vote on both projects on Sept. 9, but those votes are only advisory and have little bearing on whether the projects will ultimately be built. The 77 Commercial Street complex does not have a projected completion date, according to the developer.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018: Added context.
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
A city making its housing affordable via lottery is perverse. There are better ways.
Aug. 22, 2013, 1:35 pm
psc from greenpoint says:
Hey! Everyone may like to know that the city has been buying property in Douglaston to expand an existing park - but they have no money for the above.

This is outrageous.
Aug. 22, 2013, 3:43 pm
Ethan Pettit from Park Slope says:
“The population increase will be staggering,” Masson said.

And what are you going to do about it, tell people they can't live here? Impose a nimbyist moratorium on "having more people" in a city that is growing by half a million a decade?

An expert at a Columbia think tank says the development currently underway all over the city is a "drop in the bucket" compared to the need we face.

Hyperdevelopment of residential housing is absolutely the best solution for the city right now. Not only will it alleviate pressure on existing, lower-income housing stock, but it is also the right thing to do for the environment.

More people in the cities, in new and more energy-efficient housing, using more public transportation, is the wave of the future. Former industrial areas and waterfronts are ideally suited for this kind of development.

More people and more buildings are inevitable and they are a good thing. They will strengthen economies and communities and they will actually compel more sustainable urban living.

To be sure, infrastructure and green spaces will have to keep pace, and they will. Resources and efficiency will be optimized as city management goes digital and we morph into a "smart city."

But this endless, plaintiff resistance to gentrification and development is half a century out of touch with the reality of urban growth today. It has nothing to offer except the sanctimonious proposition that fewer people are preferable to more. Ya don't say! So move to Detroit. The reality is that there will be more people, and you are not the gate keeper.
Aug. 23, 2013, 7:44 pm
KC from Lower East Side says:
I have to disagree with Ethan - hyperdevelopment of luxury housing isn't what this city needs, we desperately need AFFORDABLE housing. Faux Luxury towers like these don't bring people who "strengthen economies & communities" bc they're rented/bought by investors who live in Hong Kong or Dubai for nine mths out of the yr. The people who are currently living in the community are the ones who would love to stay & continue contributing to the community but will ultimately be booted out due to the luxury tower effect - all other bldgs will raise their rents to ridiculous levels simply bc they can. We've created a NY that looks like Palm Beach Florida with absentee tenants and given the boot to those trying to build an actual life in NYC. So much for a vibrant city...

As far as NYC "keeping pace" with the influx of luxury development with "resources & efficiency" LOLOL, yeah sure. This weekend alone there we're faced with 17 out of 20 subway lines that will be severely disrupted to the point of a half hr trip will take you at least an hr. The MTA still hasn't figured out how to make train or bus tracking available to riders. Yeah, very complex stuff. So much for the "smart city" you tout. Keep waiting.
Aug. 23, 2013, 11:50 pm
Ian from williamsburg says:
Ethan makes a great point about development needs in NYC. What seems to be commonly missed in the debates about whether we should add more housing is the fact that affordability is primarily a matter of supply and demand. NYC has one of the lowest housing vacancy rates in the country and therefore landlords can continue jacking rents because they have pricing power. We need more housing and added density is one of the only forms it can take. One of the only times in recent memory prices dropped in Williamsburg was following the glut of supply in 2009. Not surprisingly, after the massive supply was absorbed, prices began ascending again.
Aug. 24, 2013, 8:04 am
Ethan Pettit from Park Slope says:
You have a housing shortage, you need to build houses. "Affordable" is a question for philosophy, not politics. No one owes you affordable. You live where you can afford to live. We need a deeper tax base before we can afford affordable. Market rate housing does that.
Aug. 24, 2013, 8:49 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nobody is saying that there isn't a shortage of housing, but there is for those on the lower end of the ladder. Over the years, many of those who have been living in such neighborhoods for decades have been priced out either due to higher rents or property taxes. The claim that the hyperdevelopment of luxury housing will help the community has been proven false countless times. All it really does create a lot of glut. Also, I don't get how building so many above market rate housing can bring prices down when there has been no claims for that. Seriously, I'm tired of hearing that developers give back to the community when I already know that it's false. In reality, they couldn't care less, and only do it when it's for photo-ops or other PR purposes. Overall, it's those on the low end of the ladder who really contribute to the community, not those on the high end.
Aug. 25, 2013, 2:52 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
The last thing that we need in this city is more "affordable housing". There are more than enough housing projects in NYC that are being taken advantage of and abused. Drive across the Williamsburg bridge at night and look into the housing projects on the Lower East Side and count the number of big screen HDTV's that you can see through the windows of the buildings on either side of the bridge. Or better yet, drive through them and count the number of Cadillac Escalades, BMWs, Mercedes and other luxury cars parked in the parking lots. These are in prime waterfront areas and we give them away to people that continue to take advantage of an overly generous system. If you live in a housing project, you should not be able to afford these types of things. If it were up to me, every one of them would be knocked down and replaced with market rate housing for people that work for a living and pay their own way as opposed to people on the public dole. People that live in subsidized housing or projects can learn to commute, just like the rest of us. Just because you don't or claim not to earn as much as the median population doesn't give you the right to rape the system.

And don't any of you try and turn this into a racial issue. That's garbage. This is economics, pure and simple. People who pay more deserve to live in better residences. Do you think that somebody who wants to live in a upper class community like Greenwich CT or Rye NY can make an argument to only pay $100k for a house when their neighbor who lives in the same school district and has the same basic type of house / property pays a million? How should it be any different for apartments? White, Black, Latin, doesn't matter; we need more people in this city that are going to pay their taxes, support local businesses and be a net positive as opposed to a drain on the already exhausted public support resources. Go ahead and soapbox all you want, but I pay my taxes, donate to charities and go out and patronize local businesses.
Aug. 26, 2013, 11:27 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What makes you think that everyone who lives in the housing projects are on welfare and don't have jobs let alone pay taxes? That has been proven false numerous times. You may be right for some of them, but don't blame a whole for just a few especially if you don't want that happening to your kind. There are many of them who do pay taxes and even rent for living in the projects despite being subsidized. Also, there are several different forms of this such as Mitchell-Lama and Section 8, plus there are complexes such as Co-op City, Parkchester, Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Penn South, and Starret City that are actually privately owned, but have either rent control or regulation in their apartments. Perhaps the cars shown in the parking lots belong to those who are actually working, but you will never know that because you probably never asked. Another thing I don't get is what makes where some of them are happening to be a prime location. Where should they be located if not there? My guess is that you want them to be in the middle of nowhere. In reality, it's the individuals living in the projects such as the welfare frauds that are the problem, not the projects themselves. I take it you say public housing as a communist takeover, which is why you want eminent domain to only be for something private such as the Atlantic Yards. Overall, NYC has to be a playground for the rich especially for someone who probably works for Bloomberg and will probably be for his lapdog Quinn as well.
Aug. 26, 2013, 2:32 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Tal - If you live in any form of public subsidized housing you're on the public dole. Plain and simple. Rent control / stabilization is an entirely different concept.

To your point on the cars in the lots belonging to the people that are "actually working" those people shouldn't be living in those buildings in the first place. If you can afford that kind of car, you're obviously making more than enough money and that you should be priced out of living in a public housing and should be living in normal rentals just like the rest of us. This is a clear indication of housing fraud. Are you saying that housing fraud should be ignored.

Subsidized housing doesn't have to be in the "middle of nowhere", but there are plenty of under-developed areas of the outer-boroughs that would be much more suitable. This would obviously never happen as no politician would ever have the balls to do such a thing, which is a shame. Also, if you knew anything about real estate you would know that waterfront rentals are a prime location. NYC loses out on tremendous revenue opportunities with projects that are clearly being abused like Baruch, LaGuardia and Vladeck in particular. The Robert Fulton project sits a stones throw away from the Meatpacking district, one of the most expensive areas of the city! I understand that these have been around for a while, but its time the city took the time to do a serious look at where we're providing housing for people on the dole.

Space restrictions in Manhattan and waterfront areas of Williamsburg make those premium properties and locations. If you're on the dole, you don't deserve to live in areas like that.
Aug. 26, 2013, 6:14 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantivlle, NY says:
Interloper, if you don't want those living in housing projects to have cars, then place them either near better areas or at least near some major transportation hub. Many of them are nowhere near that, so they have to have cars to get around more sufficiently. As usual, the rich always get to be near everything, while everyone who is on the lower end must make major trips to get somewhere. Also, I don't see what's the bid deal with housing projects near major areas in Manhattan. At least they don't have to go far. Hearing your statements on that makes me feel that you work for Bloomberg or just want almost every part of the city to nothing more than a playground for the rich.
Aug. 27, 2013, 5:28 pm
Natalie from Greenpoint says:
Ethan, you're a republican snob who is far removed from the realities of Greenpoint, and Interloper, maybe you don't realize that these new buildings on the oh so desirable waterfront in Greenpoint happen to be going up in an area worse than most projects are in. They will be a 15 minute walk from the 7 train and a 10-12 minute walk from the G train. The best transportation will be the East River Ferry which runs once every 30 minutes and stops running at 8:30pm. Shocking to me that they are building luxury rentals in this inconvenient neighborhood or that anyone able to afford $3,000/month rent would be so stupid to live here when they can live in the heart of Manhattan for that..without being on a repulsively toxic waterway! May the developers lose money if this goes through...maybe people moving to New York will be smarter than they anticipate. Basically, based on how projects and lower income housing has traditionally been placed in the city, Greenpoint Landing SHOULD be for the lower-middle income's far away from all transportation and all conveniences and I don't see that changing very quickly.
Sept. 5, 2013, 11:22 pm

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