As he rang in 2015, Fabrice Grinda, a 41-year-old tech entrepreneur from France, took stock of his life. He’d been living out of suitcases for the past four years, globetrotting and swinging between upscale hotels and top-notch Airbnbs. He decided it was time to “partially re-materialize.” Not settle down with a white picket fence (horrors!) — nothing drastic — but simply find a simple New York landing pad he could call his own.
Housing + Development
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.
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.
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.