“Yes, there is a gigantic sandwich landing on Greenpoint,” said Ward Dennis. “The question is how can we make it better?”
During a community workshop last night at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (an invitation to a water treatment plant? how could we say no!?), the co-chair of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth managed to make us super hungry while talking about two housing developments – known as Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street – that already have full approval to add over 5,000 apartment units and more than 170,000 square feet of public open space to Greenpoint’s northern shores. Construction begins next year.
Mark Torrey and Clara Amenyo of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, which ran the workshop, likened the approval of the developments to the construction of a double-decker pastrami sandwich with blue cheese and lots of decadent, fatty toppings. The point? Developers are going to give Greenpointers a pastrami sandwich no matter what, but residents still get to consider whether they really need the blue cheese or that extra slice of bread.
Way to take a complicated matter and make it digestible! (Pro tip: judging by last night’s 7-Eleven forum, fresh lox goes a long way…)
Currently, only 951 of the planned 5,000 units are designated as affordable housing. But developers want to pile on more than 600 affordable housing units, over 500 market rate units, bigger parks and a public school. To add the dozens of extra stories for this, they’d have to purchase air rights and additional parcels of land from the city.Rami Metal, legislative director for City Council member Stephen Levin, encouraged some 40 concerned Greenpointers to speak out about the makeup of the affordable housing units and the open space, not to mention sustainability issues like recycling and composting and whether or not there should be cultural or office spaces included in the package.
Some remained set against the 2005 rezoning that paved the way for the massive developments in the first place. Lincoln Restler, managing director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition and Democratic State Committeeperson, said residents and the city should be having that zoning-changing conversation before ULURP process begins in August.
But Dewey Thompson, the co-chair of Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning who helped lead the meeting, provided a reality check. “If you want to tackle rezoning, that is a fight; there is a fight there. But we’re not talking about that here.”
In other words: this wasn’t the time or place for Greenpointers to demand sushi instead of a foot-long. Just sit down and decide whether you want whole wheat or cheesy bread.