A parking lot at the Cooper Park Houses is set to be replaced by a high-rise building, and residents of the East Williamsburg housing development aren’t happy about it. Several dozen people showed up to express their outrage Tuesday at a meeting where the New York City Housing Authority unveiled its plans. 

The impending development at Cooper Park Houses is part of NYCHA’s NextGeneration Neighborhoods plan to gain revenue from “underutilized” land. But residents at last night’s meeting didn’t seem to agree that the parking lot– located on a long, narrow strip on the south side of the houses– is underutilized.

Some complained that they’d been kept out of the loop about the proposed apartment complex, which will bring 250 additional units, half market-rate and half affordable housing. “We did not know what you’re doing, because you did not speak to us,” said a resident, raising their voice and dismissing a NYCHA representative’s defense that the Housing Authority had distributed flyers.  

Cooper Houses are on the eastern extremity of Williamsburg, where the commercial and residential buildings end and an industrial area begins. The new apartments will mean an influx of people. “More people means more crime,” said one audience member. 

NYCHA will give the residents an opportunity for input, in the form of two meetings, before an official proposal is made in the spring. The plan as described at the town hall is to convey the community’s desires to developers, in order to affect the final shape of the project. Developers will be chosen before the end of the year, and a groundbreaking is set for 2020.

After Tuesday’s meeting, NYCHA issued a statement reiterating most of the meeting’s points and noting that the new development would help “raise millions of dollars for repairs at Cooper Park,” which faces “$59 million in capital needs alone.”

Watch our video to hear what City Council member Antonio Reynoso and others had to say about that.