Williamsburg, Greenpoint residents spread anti-rezoning gospel

The Brooklyn Paper
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A group of anti-gentrification evangelists from Williamsburg and Greenpoint are on a mission to warn other New York City communities about the potential evils of rezoning.

The planning-policy proselytizers have been visiting community boards in neighborhoods that are facing rezoning akin to the one the city passed in the two northern neighborhoods a decade ago. That rezoning turned their area into an overcrowded playground for the rich, say group members, and it should serve as a prophecy for other communities in the same situation.

“We are the canary in the coal mine,” said Jens Rasmussen, a member of community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. “We are telling them, ‘You want to know what this will look like? Come to Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and we will show you where our friends were forced out because of rising rents and where we have not gotten the promised job retention or open space.’ ”

The group went to testify to Community Board 5, which services East New York and Cypress Hills, last week and it plans to take its crusade to Prospect Lefferts Gardens and some neighborhoods in the Bronx in the coming weeks.

“We are letting them know that the city has a history of not following through with its promises and communities should be wary of how they deal with them,” said Williamsburg resident Janos Marton, who has been arranging the field trips.

When the city rezoned Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 2005, it went ahead despite the opposition of Community Board 1 and many neighborhood residents. But the anti-development apostles say there are still ways their would-be disciples can learn from their experiences, even if the rezoning passes.

For instance, they should ensure the city makes good on any perks it promises residents before the rezoning goes ahead, said group member Kim Fraser. In 2005, the city promised to create a park the size of about 21 football fields along the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront, in addition to allowing developers to build thousands of new apartments. The towers went up, and new residents came in, but locals are still fighting the city to buy more land and complete Bushwick Inlet Park, which is currently the size of about five football fields. Other neighborhoods should take heed, Fraser said.

“I told them that if they need anything for their communities, you make them do that first,” she said. “None of this bait-and-switch that we got.”

Community Board 5 members said they were grateful to these good Samaritans for spreading the word about their experiences.

“I think it is great that they came to see us,” said district manager Walter Campbell. “People should talk to others about what they have gone through.”

The community board will vote on the rezoning sometime this summer, said Campbell.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Chris from Greenpoint says:
This is amazing - good for all of those involved. The future of our city is at stake.
April 29, 2015, 7:55 am
Juan from Gowanus says:
Let it be known, the city's word is worthless. They promised Williamsburg a park and now they are hoping everyone just forgets about it.
April 29, 2015, 8:50 am
Cmon Now from Williamsburg/Greenpoint says:
Dear Nimby renters,
You have no claim to what you don't own. Every renter gets priced out of every neighborhood that gets improved. Unless you own, shut up. You're not forced out, the market changes. Nobody owes you anything. Shut up and move. It's going to happen anyway. Crying like someone is taking away your rights is just sad and probably explains why you're in a crappy situation and have been for so long. Just because you haven't improved yourself, stop trying to stop improvement elsewhere. So much of GP and Williamsburg is a wasted, rotting industrial space that sits idle and decrepit and serves no one, let alone the community.
April 29, 2015, 11:05 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:

Advice to every other neighborhood: look at Williamsburg. Look at cities that are able to build affordable market rate housing. Ignore Williamsburg. Listen to the other cities.

These anti-housing activists aren't the canaries in the coal mine, they're the noxious gas.
April 29, 2015, 11:56 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It's particularly perverse that after Williamsburg got the Bloomberg administration to downzone so much of Williamsburg, which forced people to move to Bushwick and now East New York, that Williamsburg reps are headed to East New York to tell them just how to replicate that.

East New York should greet them with infinity expletive laden rants and ask them to justify why Williamsburg was deserving of downzoning forcing gentrification further and further away from the job centers of the region.
April 29, 2015, 11:59 am
Cmon Now from Williamsburg/Greenpoint says:
I know you're not super smart or anything, but downzoning means exactly the opposite of what you think it means.

NYC has a housing shortage. It has had for a really long time now. That's why rents are so expensive. Supply and Demand. Simple. Same goes for the price of real estate. Industrial manufacturing no longer belongs in NYC, most especially so close to Manhattan. It has only polluted our land and waterways. Furthermore, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick - it's their proximity to Manhattan and ease of transportation that makes them desirable places to live.
If you don't contribute to the economy of NYC, which is booming, serves you right.
April 29, 2015, 1:34 pm
Louisa Jimminez from Williamsburg says:
These gentrifications can toot my pooter! This LATINA is telling you gentrifications - TOOT MY POOTER - my funky brown pooter!
April 29, 2015, 1:41 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Don't try condescending to me unless you are smarter than me, Cmon.

I know what downzoning is. I know that Bloomberg and Burden enacted "contextual rezoning" that made the waterfront and the major avenues up zoned in exchange for downzoning every side street in North Brooklyn. If I had less contempt for you, I'd link you to the maps showing it.

If you were any good at reading comprehension, you'd find yourself agreeing with my positions.
April 29, 2015, 1:56 pm
Awarq from Clinton Hill says:
Cmon Now, you are my hero. Refreshing to read someone telling it like it is instead of whining about what everyone else has and what is "owed" to them.
April 29, 2015, 2:03 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Abbra-ka-friggin'-shazoom, baby!
April 29, 2015, 4:13 pm
Cmon Now from Williamsburg/Greenyomamma says:
Oh Mike,
You don't understand. Too bad.

On another note TLDR. Dear NIMBYs, shut up and move away
April 29, 2015, 4:36 pm
Paul from Sheepshead Bay says:
How many derogatory religious alliterations can you use to smear these people who are expressing their justified outrage at being priced out of their homes and neighborhoods?
April 29, 2015, 5:27 pm
nadia from Clinton Hill says:
CMON, you do state facts but is uninformed of you to assume that home ownership is a possibility for everyone. So you can tell people to shut up, but thank goodness for groups like the ones in this article who ignore you and speak up.
April 29, 2015, 5:41 pm
2 cents from Bklyn says:
More housing does not mean housing prices will decrease. A builder/ developer has a cost per square foot. That cost will be passed off to the new unit buyers or renters in addition to whatever rent the market will bear. Landlord mega companies are profit driven -- just like every other company. The housing stock is being created for those who can afford it. It makes no difference if they live in the area under development or not.
April 29, 2015, 7:22 pm
Newtownskip from Greenpoint says:
BP's characterization of our group's visits to other community boards as anti-gentifrication gospel & proselytizing is incorrect spin. We're an open space advocacy org bringing to light how the City has reneged on a approved rezoning resolution stipulation to create a specific amount of open park space to help mitigate the local population explosion associated with overdevelopment. It's about the City's relationship and commitment to communities, and honoring deals with them.
April 30, 2015, 8:04 am
Crawdad from E. Williamsburg says:
Williamsburg wasn't downzoned. Height limits have nothing to do with downzoning. The overall FAR increased.

This whole article and resulting conversation is idiotic, BTW. Yeah, let's preserve vacant land and empty warehouses instead of housing people. In a city with a gigantic housing shortage, and hundreds of thousands of new arrivals, let's advocate against new housing construction, and then somehow believe this will magically keep rents lower...
April 30, 2015, 11:52 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Spread the word. Unless you are in a high income bracket (and I do not mean upper middle class, I mean very wealth), developers and the state and coming for homes, and even the mayor can do little to stop this inevitable outcome. My advise is hold fast to your rent stabilized apartment and fight like hell.
May 1, 2015, 8:38 am
Cmon Now from Williamsburg/Greenpoint says:
Crawdad is the only person in the comments section that makes any sense.
May 1, 2015, 1:10 pm

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