Standing Athwart the Williamsburg Bridge, Yelling Stop

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Photo: iStockphoto.com


The opposition to our city’s vertical growth spurt is getting louder and more concerted. Today brings news from two fronts: Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

The Times takes a look at recently rezoned Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where almost every vacant lot is coming up steel and glass, and the North Brooklyn Development Corporation, a social-services group, is worried that the construction frenzy is sprinting far ahead of government oversight. The bait-and-switch they allege is so familiar and basic it hurts us to retype it.

Developers, it seems, get to sink their teeth into the waterfront in exchange for promising the city thousands of affordable-housing units and public green space — which then somehow fail to materialize. In the meantime, those ‘Burgers not facing eviction or spiraling rents have to contend with Armageddon-level noise and clouds of possibly toxic dust. In September alone, the city received 337 construction-related complaints from the area, more than twice the average.

Across the Williamsburg Bridge, on the trendy, trendy Lower East Side, the grievances are more aesthetic than economic. People are getting fed up not with the breadth of the construction but the height. Over the last two years, two mini-skyscrapers broke the LES skyline (Thor and Blue), with the eighteen-story hotel on Orchard soon to join them. Later today, the city’s Department of Planning will hear a proposal to cap all new construction projects at a single-digit number of stories. The discussion will take place at the Cooper Union, where scores of yelling activists succeeded in shutting down the Rent Guidelines Board hearing earlier this year; today’s meeting promises to be just as festive (and to star many of the same neighborhood characters).

Meantime, of course, developers just keep building.

City Sees Growth; Residents Call It Out of Control [NYT]
City Hopes to Squash LES Hi-Rises [amNY]
Glass Houses All the Fashion in NYC [amNY]