The area known as Two Bridges, below the Lower East Side, melting into Chinatown and hemmed in by the waterfront, has long been defined by its mix of mid-rise low-income public housing and affordable housing buildings. Now, within a matter of years it will suddenly have at least two towering skyscrapers in its midst.
Housing + Development
If you care about the gold rush sweeping Brooklyn and you haven’t been listening to WNYC’s There Goes the Neighborhood podcast…well, you must be living under a rock (or maybe in Tribeca). The eight-episode capsule podcast, hosted by The Nation‘s Kai Wright, is required listening. From studying landlord and developer tactics to understanding people’s complicated relationships with their homes and neighborhoods, it goes beyond the constant stream of tenant harassment cases to really try to make sense of the historical and social context around the recent developments in the changing the city.
We all remember when superstorm Sandy plunged the East Village into darkness after a 14-foot storm surge caused an explosion at the ConEd station (in fact, there’s a movie out Friday set during that very historical moment in 2011). Luckily, we haven’t seen any storms of that scale since, but Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t taking any chances. Today he announced more funding for the city’s climate resiliency plan as part of the 2017 city budget. The waterfront plans aren’t just going to protect Manhattan from more flooding– they’ll also double as a huge new public space.
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A few hundred longtime residents marched through Bushwick this morning to protest fast-paced gentrification and demand stronger rent stabilization laws and an end to legal loopholes. Students, clergy leaders, business owners and families displayed signs in English and Spanish, loudly drummed on buckets, and chanted slogans such as “Fight, fight, fight, ‘cause housing is a right!” Halfway through the march, the crowd stopped on Knickerbocker Avenue for a common prayer for “more justice to save our community.”
Last January we brought you our 10 favorite ghost signs. April brought another batch, followed by more in July. The fourth in our series features an additional 10. Click through the slideshow to see our picks.
As Participatory Budgeting has been adopted here in New York City over the last few years, residents of each participating district can now vote on how to allocate a minimum of $1 million of the city budget to the local improvement efforts they they care most about. In North Brooklyn, the budgetary contenders chosen by neighbors include projects in schools, parks, playgrounds, transportation, and public housing. (Sorry, Lower East Side and East Village– you’re left out again this year.)
When you’re biking over the Williamsburg Bridge, do you ever think about heading down to see what’s under it? Probably not that often, at least to the south–it’s long been a desolate mess of neglected buildings and there’s no easy way to get near the water.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing proposal is one step closer to passing after he announced some changes earlier this week. The tweaks responded to many of the concerns expressed by city council members last month, including provisions for deeper affordability levels to help more low-income New Yorkers qualify for apartments. According to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the plan is all but certain to pass when it goes up for a vote next week.
Embattled developer Samy Mahfar wants the city to rezone a stretch of East Houston Street so that a restaurant can open inside of a building he plans to put up there. The problem: a daycare was previously at the address, and members of Community Board 3 think the booze-soaked Lower East Side could use another doctor’s office instead of more liquor. That became readily apparent at a meeting of the board’s zoning committee Wednesday night.
Mahfar plans to erect a 13-story building at 255 East Houston Street, which is part of a 2008 zoning that prohibits commercial uses in the area. He’s requesting a rezoning that would map a commercial overlay in what’s currently a residential district, along two and a half blocks on the south side of East Houston Street between Norfolk Street and the midblock between Clinton Street and Attorney Street. That would make the proposed 13-story building at 255 East Houston Street mixed use.
As a work-resident of Greenpoint, the soundtrack to my daytime life is a near constant wash of brutal jackhammer vibrato and diesel-spewing growls emitted from a stream of trucks. As you might have noticed, the neighborhood, from the edge of Williamsburg to the Pulaski Bridge, is getting seriously tore up by mega-developments like Greenpoint Landing and the expansion of the Brooklyn Greenway.
It’s easy to speak about the consequences of all this change in abstract terms, and harder to know exactly who will be impacted, when, and how. But that’s not really the case when it comes to feral cats like Kool-Aid, a mangy little black-and-white dude who lurks around the neighborhood’s abandoned lots and the in-between spaces. Clearly, his way of life is about to change. As new construction threatens the colony where he and about ten other cats live, their caretakers are scrambling for a way to assert something like squatter’s rights.
The iconic Domino Sugar refinery graced the Williamsburg waterfront for decades, and when much of it was demolished in 2014, many felt that a quintessential part of the neighborhood had vanished. Paul Raphaelson, a photographer who specializes in urban and industrial landscapes, felt a similar sense of loss, and decided to capture the abandoned factory’s eerie beauty before it disappeared. However, what started out as a simple desire to photograph the building’s cavernous spaces became an in-depth exploration into the human and historical context that surrounded them. The endeavor would eventually result in a crowdfunded book as well as a set of photos currently on display at The Front Room gallery, not far from the site of the refinery.
Bushwick council member Antonio Reynoso was among the many who challenged Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to shoot it down entirely. Upzoning (i.e. rezoning certain areas to allow for higher buildings) is one of the more controversial aspects of the the mayor’s plan, and something that Bushwick residents have vehemently protested against in recent years. But in a report released earlier this month, Reynoso concludes that the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which would require a share of those taller buildings to be permanently affordable, represents the chance to address “missed opportunities” in North Brooklyn housing development.