Get a load of Assemblyman Vito Lopez at Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement on Monday that the city is helping a developer convert an old gas station into a new shopping center and luxury apartments!
The Bushwick Democrat is clearly no fan of the proposal for the long-vacant Grand Street lot, thanks to the 50 units of market-rate rentals that it includes.
“We have a housing crisis in this city,” Lopez said after the ceremonial groundbreaking with the mayor. “How does it deal with [the need for] affordable housing?”
Lopez’s legislative legacy is one marked by securing state funding to redevelop polluted sites such as Bushwick’s Rheingold Gardens and Williamsburg’s Broadway Triangle properties into affordable housing complexes.
Even his political rival, Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D–Williamsburg), whom Lopez refused to endorse in 2009, agreed that the site needed more affordability.
“This district doesn’t need another market-rate residential project, and we’re not happy that it does not include any open space,” said Bennett Baruch, a spokesman for Reyna, who also attended Monday’s event, though she did not openly scowl in the mayor’s presence. “That’s what the community wants. This project is not going to do that.”
The triangular-shaped lot bounded by Grand Street, Keap Street and Borinquen Place, was a Shell filling station, a theater house, and an open-air market before Queens-based mall developer Meir Babaev bought the site last year, renamed it “Triangle Court,” and unveiled plans for five new businesses on the ground floor and 57 parking spaces underground.
Babaev said that he’s had interest from a pharmacy, a mobile phone store, and even an International House of Pancakes, but that both Lopez and Reyna have lobbied him to include more below-market units.
He has refused.
“They just want more affordable housing in the area, which they have a right to ask for — we want to build affordable luxury rentals,” said Babaev. “We want to cater to the market that is a mixed gentrified neighborhood with young professionals.”
Bloomberg was at the groundbreaking to personally tout a city program that underwrites some of the cost of cleaning up contaminated sites so developers can build.