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.
Housing + Development
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.
Hot on the heels of the new “Bushwick-inspired” hotel, a quiet corner of the neighborhood is about to get a futuristic makeover. Just take a look at the ODA New York-designed building coming to 10 Montieth, part of the old Rheingold Brewery property. When it opens, residents will be able to skate right across the street to their jobs at a slick new office building coming to the area, 95 Evergreen.
The first rows of the City Council chambers were packed with red shirts yesterday. Members of the AARP were there to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis and create 200,000 units over the next decade. But council members representing North Brooklyn aren’t so sure about the plan.
What is there to say other than, ‘Where’s our park?’ and, ‘The promise was made,’ and, ‘Do it’?” State Senator Daniel Squadron asked Sunday at the CitiStorage site, on the anniversary of a seven-alarm fire that renewed calls for the greening of the eight-acre plot on the Williamsburg waterfront. Turns out, there was more to say: the state senator was joined by Council Member Stephen Levin, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and other elected officials and activists who once again called on Mayor de Blasio to acquire the land and make good on a promise made by his predecessor. So how many ways are there to say “Where’s our park?” Play the video to find out.
Nearly a year after a seven-alarm fire ravaged the CitiStorage building in Williamsburg, the fate of the hotly contested land remains in limbo. On Sunday, the fire’s anniversary, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park will gather to once again call on the city to turn the controversial plot into parkland.
There was a closing sale today at Frank’s Wine and Liquor store on 46 Union Square East, one of four stores forced to leave the historic Tammany Hall Building on the brink of a massive renovation. Already shuttered are Trevi Deli, a smoke shop, and a newsstand.
The big moving vans came Friday to clear out Tammany Hall’s most prominent tenant, The Union Square Theatre around the corner from Park Avenue South at 100 East 17th Street. Within a matter of hours, it was a ghost building, emptied of all vestiges of the Tony-Award winning hit comedy, 39 Steps, which had played on Broadway and other venues for 1,135 performances starting in 2008.
Hard to believe, but it’s now been over a year since our beloved Astor Place cube was boxed up and unceremoniously hoisted onto a flatbed and hauled off. We were briefly consoled by a human cube on Halloween, but mostly there’s been a hole in our heart — or, at Astor Place, anyway — where the cube used to be. This week, however, excavation of the future Astor Plaza finally commenced, and the city tells us the reconstruction should be completed by spring.
Herewith, the final installment (for now!) of our A Lot About a Plot series, diving deep into the histories of storied addresses around town.
Sometimes he hears them whispering in the halls.
“Horrible things have happened here,” Jean Paul tells me. “There are spirits still lingering here.”
Jean Paul Chatham is a 40-year-old gay plumber from Belize, dark-skinned with a large bush of curly, Creole hair that he keeps brushing away from in front of his face. He’s lived at Umbrella House for about 14 years. When he greets me he is shirtless, wearing camouflage pants and two protective amulets on a chain around his neck. Although clearly physically fit, he keeps apologizing for his appearance. He says his face looks the way it does because the entire building is trying to cast spells on him, or “bless him with negative energy,” as he puts it.