The Brooklyn Home Company broke ground recently on a four-unit condo building at 84 Congress Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. A joint venture with MESH Architectures, this project looks nothing like Brooklyn Home Company’s conversions in historic buildings we wrote about last week, as a rendering on the fence shows.
Designed by Mesh Architecture, the 6,720-square-foot building between Columbia and Hicks Streets will have four duplexes, basement storage, a one-car garage and a private roof terrace for the penthouse. Although the rendering shows six stories, including a set back, the permit specifies five.
A new building application was filed over a year ago, but the DOB didn’t issue permits until January 24. Brooklyn Home snapped up the small property for $1,550,000 in October 2012, public records show, with a one-story factory on the lot, now demolished.
A few blocks away there is a green condo building under construction. The building at 84 Congress will take nine months to a year to complete. Thanks to a tipster for sending in the rendering. What do you think of the design? GMAP
As we approach the May 1 deadline for Mayor de Blasio to present his plan for 200,000 units of affordable housing, housing advocates and preservationists worry that increasing the percentage of affordable housing in private developments will require outsize development in Brooklyn. Last week’s approval of Domino, which will have towers reaching up to 55 stories, has given those advocates a prime example of this policy, according to the Daily News.
“Hopefully new affordable housing can be created without necessarily requiring a massive scale of construction to do so,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Meanwhile, City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod argued that density and good design and planning don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
It’s not exactly news that as neighborhoods gentrify, the artists who jump started the process are priced out. However, it may be the end of the line for some artists priced out of Industry City in Brooklyn, the huge industrial complex in Sunset Park, according to a story in The New York Times.
The Times followed up with some 24 of nearly 50 artists who left the complex more than six months ago after new owners raised rents there. After moving every few years for decades, some are using their living space as studios, changing the art they do to accommodate cramped quarters. Meanwhile, a few artist organizations are working on buying or leasing spaces for artists in Brooklyn in the affordable $250 to $400 a month range. The article noted that affordable space is even difficult to find in areas that are “too remote” such as Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.
Many reader comments said it’s no longer necessary for artists to live in New York City, thanks to social media, and they should consider alternative locations such as Newburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
“To own in Manhattan, you need an income over $250,000,” said commenter avery_t. “People with an income of $150,000 are getting pushed into Brooklyn. People with an income under $100,000 are getting pushed further into Brooklyn. People with an income of $50,000 are getting pushed out of Brooklyn. Etc.”
Here’s how reader RG of La Jolla, Calif., described the process: “Artists are the worms in the compost heap of redevelopment. Developers are the ones with the pitchforks.”
Do you think the city should give tax breaks or other assistance to artists in Brooklyn or let them move out of the borough?
Newly appointed Chairman of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, who represents Bensonhurst, Borough Park, and Midwood, came out against landmarking Thursday, saying it reduces affordable housing, Crain’s reported.
“None of us exists in a vacuum,” he said to Robert Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, at a hearing. “In the grand scheme of the city we are very focused on affordable housing … those are two competing interests.”
As of March 2013, 2 percent of the city is protected by landmarking, according to the story, which cited a Wall Street Journal report.
At the same event, Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams also called for a slow down in landmarking, saying the lack of affordable housing in historic districts is “appalling.”
We respectfully disagree: Continuing to protect the city’s architectural heritage is not at odds with the Mayor’s laudable effort to increase affordable housing. Merely limiting landmarking will do nothing to increase affordable housing, as development in non-landmarked areas of Brooklyn such as Williamsburg and 4th Avenue has shown. We call on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to step up the pace of landmarking in Brooklyn, particularly in Bedford Stuyvesant, an architecturally remarkable but largely unprotected area where developers have become very active lately.
If the proposed areas up before Landmarks were to be landmarked today there would still be huge sections of these neighborhoods where new affordable housing can be built, as well as many other means of increasing affordable housing in Brooklyn. It’s not a zero-sum game. Great architecture should be preserved for all to enjoy.
The end of North Henry Street will be transformed into a public shoreline, thanks to the first round of grants from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. The group announced funding for 18 small-grant projects yesterday. The Newtown Creek Alliance will get $25,000 for its shoreline project, DNAinfo reported. (Above, Newtown Creek flowing into the East River.)
The New York City Audubon Society will receive about $50,000 for a habitation project with two schools to attract birds in McGolrick Park. A grant of $12,500 will go to Build It Green! to study the feasibility of a community compost site in the area.
Developer Park Tower Group has gotten the ball rolling on the hotly debated Greenpoint Landing development by filing a building application for a six-story mixed-use building at 21 Commercial Street. Designed by Handel Architects, the 85,033-square-foot structure will have ground floor commercial space and 93 units on prime Greenpoint waterfront land, according to a new building application filed Monday.
Eventually, the 20-acre megadevelopment will include 10 30- to 40-story towers, a new K-8 school and a public park. The developers also promised to keep 431 apartments “permanently affordable” and to run a shuttle between the development and the G train. Despite significant opposition from the Greenpoint community, the project cleared all the ULURP hurdles in the fall and was approved by the City Council in December.
After years of lawsuits and changing ownership, the assisted living facility at 1 Prospect Park West that was a Building of the Day has announced it will shut down in 90 days, NBC reported. The owners said they cannot afford an increased tax bill.
If the current owner, which appears to be real estate firm The Copper Group, decides to sell, we’re sure developers will leap at the chance to bid on the extra-prime property, located in Park Slope across the street from Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Public Library. It last traded for $40,097,437 in 2006.
As property values in Brooklyn rise dramatically, churches, businesses and homes — anywhere a double wide or bigger plot can be assembled — are quickly giving way to apartment towers. This 1925 Classical Revival building is not landmarked; the recently expanded Park Slope Historic District ends right at the nursing home’s property line.
As for the current residents, a reader told us, “residents and their families and caretakers are terribly upset at the abruptness of it all.”
After a few months of demolition, the Lightstone Group has filed the first new building application for its controversial 700-unit rental development at 363 Bond Street, on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. The application outlines a plan for a 12-story development with 268 units.
The 249,571 square-foot building will include 3,625 square feet of commercial space, 1,018 square feet of community space and 244,928 square feet of residential space. The building will also have 111 underground parking spaces, a basketball court, gym, locker rooms, a lounge, children’s play area, bike storage and a pool, according to the Schedule A filing.
Meanwhile, next door at 388 Carroll Street, Lightstone has just filed a new round of demolition applications to knock down a storage shed and two silos.
The City Planning Commission yesterday greenlighted Two Trees’ proposal for development of the Domino complex in Williamsburg, The New York Daily News reported. While there were no additional changes beyond what the Mayor and Two Trees negotiated earlier this week, it was no rubber-stamp step in the land use review process either.
If the City Planning Commission disapproves something, that can kill the proposal. Sometimes a yes vote from City Planning is enough to finalize a project. In this case, the development proposal will go to the City Council for review.
Now The New York Post is speculating the City Council could kill the deal if it pressures Two Trees to agree to new demands from labor that every worker on the site be unionized.
The Karl Fischer-designed rental building at 544 Union Avenue in Willliamsburg, The Union, is now 60 percent leased, Aptsandlofts.com tells us. The building, located on Union between Withers and Frost two blocks from McCarren Park, started leasing in November.
Rents at the glassy 94-unit building range from $2,292 a month for a studio to $3,988 a month for a two-bedroom. There are also a few three-bedrooms that don’t seem to be on the market yet.
Amenities include a putting green, a cabana, yoga room, billiard room and library, according to its website.
Tenants of about a dozen buildings in Crown Heights have formed a group to fight gentrification, landlord abuse and rising rents called Crown Heights Tenant Union, Brooklyn Bureau reported. Formed in October, the group recently held a rally outside 1059 Union Street, above, to protest landlords who try to force out longtime tenants to deregulate apartments and raise rents.
“When long term tenants move out, landlords have been gutting the apartments to deregulate the rents,” said the story. “At the same time the long term residents are not getting repairs in their units.”
The group was created with the assistance of the Pratt Area Community Council and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB. The union has a list of demands, “including a five-year rent freeze, timely repairs, a right to organize and a right to fair leases.”
“They’re beautifying the neighborhood,” the story quoted a long-term resident as saying. “I’ve been here for 36 years. I want to enjoy that also.”
The Brooklyn Recovery Fund has issued an impressive report on the state of Brooklyn more than a year after Hurricane Sandy. The report, issued a little over a month ago, found:
“While systems are back online and homes are mucked out, coastal communities continue to struggle. Home and business owners have spent down their life savings and built up debt. Many are barely making mortgage payments, and live in fear of foreclosure. Tenants face new and increasing landlord issues, including ongoing repair needs and rent hikes, and many have been forced to start over in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Storm drains remain clogged, temporary boilers create the random loss of heat, and mold persists in homes — threatening the health of our families. These needs require the utmost attention and commitment from local and city-wide decision-makers and government agencies, and beg the cooperation of all those involved to ensure that our communities recover to be better and stronger than ever before.”
The report has specific recommendations for each neighborhood in the five areas of housing, health, business and jobs, immigrant and undocumented communities and infrastructure. All the recommendations are backed up with studies and data. Some of the findings: (more…)