Housing + Development

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#HackHousing Proves That Not All Tech Bros Suck

(Flyer via #HackHousing)

(Flyer via #HackHousing)

After making my way through a gilded, marble-floor lobby worthy of Home Alone 2, I found myself at Civic Hall. The techy meetup spot and educational center is where likeminded hackers convene for “labs” and shamelessly use the kind of words (“disrupt”) that have become emblems of that heady cocktail of superiority and entitlement powering controversial profit vacuums like Uber and AirBnB. I was hardly surprised to see that Pierre Omidyar’s foundation is a sponsor of Civic Hall, as is Google. Even if the #HackHousing event had been pitched as an occasion for discussing “creative ways to empower New York renters,” I was more than a little skeptical.

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A Look Around Williamsburg’s William Vale Hotel, Opening Soon With $715 Rooms

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

The rooftop of the William Vale Hotel isn’t finished yet—right now the floor is covered in some kind of black canvas—but I hardly noticed that when I was 21 stories up, with the Manhattan skyline to the west and all of North Brooklyn surrounding me. Across the river, this altitude is nothing (the Flatiron building is 22 stories, for reference) but in Williamsburg it’s pretty mindboggling.

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New Law Aims to Help Mom-n-Pops, But Embattled Tenants Say It’s Not Enough

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

A group of a dozen small business owners and community advocates from Bushwick gathered at Esmeralda Valencia’s restaurant on Myrtle Avenue this morning with an alarming message on posterboard: “Los pequeños negocios nos declaramos en crisis”—We small businesses declare ourselves in crisis.

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Anarchists Aiming to Stop ‘Bushwick II’ Development in Its Tracks

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

It was difficult to ignore the fluttering signs at last week’s Bushwick Community Plan meeting. Sure, they were black-and-white, only about as big as two sheets of computer paper and just as flimsy, but there were tons of them. As City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal touted their community-driven alternative to developer-led change, almost everyone sitting in front of them seemed to be holding a flyer reading: “EVICT THE RICH.” The rallying cry may have been more Mao Tse-tung than #BushwickBerners, but the Brooklyn Solidarity Network (BSN) couldn’t have been more serious. 

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What Will Happen to Clinton Street, the ‘Toss-Up’ of the Lower East Side?

Clinton Ink next to Koneko Cat Cafe (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Clinton Ink next to Koneko Cat Cafe (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Lillian Melendez still remembers when Clinton Street was a destination for anyone planning a sweet sixteen, baby shower or wedding. “If you were having a party, you had to come to Clinton,” she said. “Clinton was famous, everybody knew Clinton.” As a child she spent afternoons playing in her mother’s shop, Genesis Party Supplies at 97 Clinton, packed with custom wedding and bridesmaids dresses, speciality balloons and centerpieces and themed baby shower chairs and pins. Back then, Genesis held court with three other Latino party shops on that stretch of the block alone– if a customer didn’t find what they wanted at Genesis, her mom would send them next door or across the street.

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As Vote Looms, Tenants Ask Rent Guidelines Board to Give Them a Break

RGB public hearing attendees protest embattled landlord Steven Croman. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

RGB public hearing attendees protest embattled landlord Steven Croman. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

How many landlords does it take to change a lightbulb? Metropolitan Council on Housing volunteer Mary Crosby posed the rhetorical question to members of the Rent Guidelines Board at last night’s public hearing at Cooper Union. “None, because everyone knows landlords don’t do repairs anymore,” she said. Here’s another one for you: how many owners does it take to change a lightbulb? You’ll never guess… it’s also “none,” she said, “because the owners have removed the light sockets during an eviction.”

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Breakthrough in Effort to Limit Height of Chinatown Buildings, But Some Are Torn

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

An opening for the Chinatown Working Group’s rezoning proposal may finally be on the horizon. Last night, Community Board 3’s chair, Gigi Li, presented a new development to the Land Use Committee– after two years of sending resolutions supporting the plan to the Department of City Planning, its director, Carl Weisbrod, responded on June 7th expressing willingness to engage in discussion. Still, some community groups remain frustrated that the rezoning process isn’t moving fast enough to keep up with the quickening pace of high-rise development, while board members warned that unity from various stakeholders would be key to achieve comprehensive changes.

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Attention, Dr. Jay’s Shoppers: Bowery Tenants Take the Fight to Landlord’s Store

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

This morning shoppers looking for American flag swimsuits or bright-patterned leggings at Dr. Jay’s streetwear store in downtown Brooklyn were greeted by a flurry of slogans and posters decrying the brand’s owner, Joseph Betesh, as a slumlord. Tenants from 83 and 85 Bowery were gathered with local activists out front, chanting against Betesh’s efforts to evict them.

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Thousand Dollar Listing Guy Gets Hired By Million Dollar Listing Guy

(Photos courtesy Noah Kaplan)

(Photos courtesy Noah Kaplan)

Take Million Dollar Listing New York, add some Lonely Island-esque musical comedy, subtract a few zeros, and you’ve got Thousand Dollar ListingCreated by and starring 30-year-old struggling apartment broker Noah Kaplan, the series pilot sheds light on the tough-sell conditions (no windows, no AC) that characterize low(er)-cost tenements in Williamsburg and Bushwick, and keep Kaplan from pocketing even relatively petty commissions. 

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Short Film Captures the Lower East Side Before Essex Crossing Changes the Fabric

via Off Track Betty

via Off Track Betty

With the streets of the Lower East Side reshaping themselves faster than any of us can keep track, it’s easy to become a wistful piner for the “good old days,” when a storied building with a 100-year-old storefront was your neighbor instead of all these fresh new high rises. (A teaser site for the Essex Crossing condo building on Broome Street was just released today; the first of its 10 buildings is expected to be finished in the fall.) One longtime resident, Clayton Dean Smith, decided to channel that urge to preserve the neighborhood into an artistic outlet. Maybe he couldn’t save all the buildings he’d come to love over his 16 years in the area, but he could use some of them for the backdrop of a short film that serves as a living time capsule of the neighborhood as it currently exists (or existed, only a year and half ago).

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Chinatown Advocates Demand Community Board Action on Push to Limit Building Heights

I’m here to tell the CB, please take a stand to support us, to be on our side, not on extell’s side not on the developer’s side

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

You gotta give it to the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and their friends–they are persistent AF, despite long odds. In their eight-year quest to pass the Chinatown Working Group rezoning proposal, a plan that would create a new special district with more height restrictions and protections to fend off sky-high luxury towers, they’ve kept up a steady stream of rallies against new developments, marches in support of tenants, held town halls (trying to invite the mayor), and even hand-delivered a “gift” to Gracie Mansion.

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