Williamsburg activists are strengthening their calls for the city to acquire the site of a massive storage-facility fire even as the prime waterfront land has reportedly been optioned to developers.
On Friday, sources told Crain’s that Midtown Equities and East End Capital have secured an option to purchase the 11-acre site at North 11th Street and Kent Avenue. Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, who want to see the park expanded onto the site, plan to protest the deal this Saturday. Midtown Equities is the firm behind the Whole Foods coming to Bedford Avenue, among other projects, and East End Capital is responsible for a 21-story residential tower at 424 Bedford in South Williamsburg, described on its website as “the even ‘hipper’ neighbor of North Williamsburg.”
Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park had already planned a May 16 block party and rally. But with news that developers have swooped in on the site, the group is renewing its calls for the city to step in. In a press release, environmental activist Sharon Gensler is quoted as saying, “Developers got the rezoning they wanted. Buyers got the tax breaks on luxury condos that were built.” But residents have only gotten “higher rents, harder to find parking spots, and the closing of interesting, idiosyncratic and beloved local businesses,” she said. Rabbi David Niederman, President of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, also supports “the call to fulfill the promise of creating the Bushwick Inlet Park,” he said in the release.
The latest protest comes on the heels of two other demonstrations: on Earth Day, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park toured the site with students of the Brooklyn Arbor School, who planted symbolic seedlings in the area. And on May 4, families and players of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Youth Soccer League gathered at Bushwick Inlet Park’s current incarnation to chant “Where’s our park?” and form a massive question mark — directed at the De Blasio administration — that you can see in the video above.
It’s uncertain what the CitiStorage parcel is going for, but Norman Brodsky, its owner, told us last month that in 2006 the property was valued at $200 million. “I would love if the city took the land,” he said. “But I share the land with partners, and there are mortgages too – it’s not as simple as people think.” The best solution, he said then, would be for the city to buy a portion of the plot.
Protesters will demand that it do that and more when they meet this Saturday at 10am for the block party and then proceed to the rally at North 12th Street and Kent Avenue.