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Hot-button real estate tycoon planning Greenpoint convention center

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A controversy-dogged developer whose Greenpoint industrial complex mysteriously burned down eight years ago is planning a convention center that has begun construction in the neighborhood, to the chagrin of neighbors who are vowing to fight the complex.

The planned Greenpoint Expo Center is a project of real estate mogul Joshua Guttman, whose Greenpoint Terminal Market was gutted by a 2006 inferno that was the largest the city had seen since the Sept. 11 attacks — and whom many Greenpointers still regard with extreme distrust.

“He is the poster child for the bad landlord neighbor,” said Dewey Thompson, founder and harbor master of the North Brooklyn Boat Club. “He is totally sketchy from beginning to end.”

Guttman quickly refinished the warehouse at 79 Franklin St., at Noble Street, with a glass exterior and is now marketing the building as the future home of the Expo Center, a sort of miniature version of Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, with moveable walls for conferences, banquets, and office space.

The project’s website boasts that the building is “a new concept for a historical neighborhood that is now emerging as a frontier of culture in the Brooklyn scene.”

Guttman’s massive Greenpoint Terminal Market was home to a hodgepodge of artists, musicians, active industry, and derelict structures frequented by vandals and homeless people at the time of the fire that destroyed much of it. Police later arrested and convicted a homeless man for starting the blaze, but firefighters said at the time that the flames ignited in at least five separate spots, according to neighbors. Other Guttman properties went up in smoke in the years before that.

The developer racked up more than $4 million in fines for failing to maintain the piers and bulkheads at the Terminal Market after the massive conflagration.

“There is nothing good about this guy,” said Greenpoint resident Michael Hoffman, who used to work at American Manufacturing, one of the factories inside Greenpoint Terminal Market. “He is completely shady.”

Neighbors say they plan to take whatever measures are available to them to keep Guttman from opening up the proposed meeting complex.

“It is good that the community is being alerted as to who is behind this, because we should be opposed to whatever he is doing,” said Thompson. “He should not get permission to open anything.”

The lot that the building occupies is zoned for commercial and residential uses and the rendering shown on the Expo Center’s website does not appear to show any changes to the structure’s height.

Guttman, who is also developing a boutique hotel in Dumbo, did not return repeated requests for comment.

Updated 6:59 pm, November 5, 2015: Typo fixed.
Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
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Reasonable discourse

Sully from Brooklyn says:
Just watch which politicians either rally around this p.o.s. and support the project or simply lay down and let it happen. Just like they do for the Hasids that are devious developers they will roll out the red carpet for this demented ball of blubber. Why? Money. It's always the money.
April 19, 2014, 8:41 am
Laura Hofmann from Greenpoint says:
Everyone in this community knows that the fire wasn't an accident and that Guttman is bad news for this community. I hope that our elected officials don't support this property owner in any of his endeavors.
April 19, 2014, 3:12 pm
Louise Sabbatino from Maspeth says:
Glad to see the article and that not all memories are short, or non-existant. Jacon Guttman is scum and I'd like to know how what % of the assessed fines he actually paid.
April 21, 2014, 12:55 am
factchecking says:
Hey, I thought it was *Joshua* Guttman, not Jacob.
April 21, 2014, 10 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
You are BOTH correct, as I've been reading up on the computer: they are twins!
Pardon my pointing this out.
April 21, 2014, 2:01 pm
Jack from Bushwick says:
The homeless Polish guy who plead guilty to that arson was framed by DA Hynes.
Polish guy was upstate when fire started.
April 21, 2014, 4:06 pm
Jesse from Bedwick says:
Joshua Guttman has had a number of his other buildings in DUMBO mysteriously burned over the years, he reportedly spread poison that killed people's pets, threatened tenants, and I believe his current DUMBO project is on a "lot" that was an alley until he built a wall across the front of it in the 90s.
April 22, 2014, 11:46 am
Steve from Clinton Hill says:
I lived in a Guttman building in Dumbo that was allegedly renovated. I had a lovely waterfall in my living room every time it rained and a water wall in another part of the condo.
April 22, 2014, 2:38 pm

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