The city has broken its promise to bring affordable housing to Greenpoint and Williamsburg and is letting developers run roughshod over the neighborhoods, pushing out the working class in the process, claimed more than 150 protesters rallying outside East River State Park Wednesday night.
The group, which gathered along now upscale Kent Avenue, said thousands of poorer residents have been priced out of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods during the past decade in the wake of a rezoning of the waterfront that allowed condominium towers to rise up, but also promised more parks and guaranteed so-called “affordable housing” — two things residents now say the city lied about.
“It’s a shame that we’re out here trying to get the city to give us what they promised,” said protestor Debra Medina. “There are more and more buildings and there’s no communication with the people.”
Only 19 of the 1,345 “affordable” apartments the city promised in 2005 when it rezoned the North Brooklyn waterfront to residential from manufacturing have been built, according to Jan Petersen, a member of Community Board 1, and that has forced lower-income residents to move away.
“This community has lost 10,000 Latino residents in the past 10 years,” claimed Antonio Reynoso, who is running against Vito Lopez for the 34th district council seat. “That is unacceptable.”
Calls to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to confirm those numbers were not answered by press time.
Some Greenpoint residents have been roiling in recent weeks since two developers unveiled plans for more luxury condo towers on the north end of the waterfront.
The developer Park Tower Group wants to build “Greenpoint Landing,” a 10-tower development with up to 5,500 units on Newtown Creek. Meanwhile, the Chetrit Group is planning a 30-story tower at 77 Commercial St. between Manhattan and Franklin avenues, that would rise next to the site of a proposed city park that has been stalled for years, and some worry may never be built.
Residents added that developers should consider footing the bill for the park if they wanted to get back into the community’s good graces.
“If Park Towers were really good people, they’d say ‘We’ll give you affordable housing and the open space,’ ” said Community Board 1 chairman Chris Olechowski. “They’d do something for the community for a change and make themselves a good name.”
Residents see the explosive development along the Greenpoint waterfront — combined with Two Trees Management’s plan for 2,284 apartments proposed for and around the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg as further proof that the city cares more about turning the neighborhoods into high-end urban wonderlands than taking care of the people who have lived there for years .
Some of those residents say that all the new development is forcing old-school landlords to reevaluate how much they can get for their old-school apartments.
“[My landlord] has tried for a long time to get me out,” said Maria Ramos, 71, who has lived in a rent-stabilized apartment on Green Street for 30 years. “She wants someone with more money.”
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