Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

2009 Will Change Brooklyn’s Development Vocabulary

December 31st, 2008 · 8 Comments

What a difference a couple of years makes. When we were wrapping up 2006, we were calling it the year Brooklyn changed forever. Atlantic Yards had been approved. The Williamsburg construction boom was underway. Industrial landmarks all over the borough were threatened.

Those are not the kinds of things we expect to be talking about in 2009. No, phrases like “dead projects,” “developer blight,” “developer bankruptcy,” “foreclosure” and “abandonment” come to mind. Two years ago we thought a good real estate crash was the only thing that would save Brooklyn from ill-planned, unwise overdevelopment. We think we were right. It’s just that the crash happened a year too late. Landmarks were lost and projects representing the worst in poorly planned overdevelopment obtained financing and got underway. Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Prospect Heights will bear the scars of this insanity for the next 10-15 years. We are talking about abandominiums. Empty lots that uglify the landscape and threaten public safety and neighborhood quaility of life. Foreclosed buildings that will molder. Retail spaces that will stay empty. And individuals who we said two years ago needed psychiatric treatment to pay $750,000 or $1 million for Williamsburg apartment that will now depreciate by 30-50 percent as the market reaches equilibrium. Enjoy holding on to those apartments until 2015 or 2020 to break even folks.

In the meantime, elected officials will point fingers at each other and at city planners in a disingenuous exercise that allows one to say that, for instance, the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning allowing 30 story buildings and thousands of new residents made sense, but it’s the city planners and agencies that failed to follow through on schools, transportation, police and fire protection, etc. It reminds one of the old movie line about “Gambling? I’m shocked.”

Responsibility for this disaster that will afflict our Brooklyn neighborhoods certainly rests solidly with the Bloomberg Administration, but it also lies with the City Council Members who were their enablers and the city planners who played the game along with them. It rests with a Borough President who never met a bloated project he didn’t like or found a landmark worth preserving. It rests with the greedy buyers who thought a market would rise forever. It rests with developers who built projects that were only possible due to the foul and corrupt financing from institutions that taxpayers have been forced to bail out.

The only silver lining is that this disaster was limited to certain areas and did not have time to damage the vitality of every Brooklyn neighborhood. But from Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay and Greenpoint to Brighton Beach, we will bear the cost of greed and planning and political failures that future generations will look upon with disgust. We would pay good money to be able to see how Michael Bloomberg, Amanda Burden, Marty Markowitz and slimy developers who brought us travesties like the Original Finger Building or the Toll Brothers overly dense and ugly-as-sin Northside Piers will be looked upon in fifty years. Our prediction: with disgust and disdain.

Tags: 2008 Year in Review · Uncategorized

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brenda from Flatbush // Dec 31, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Best summing up yet. Bright side: some affordable housing for ordinary people with ordinary incomes, as the bubble continues to deflate. Happy New Year anyway!

  • 2 BrooklynGreene // Dec 31, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Brenda!!!

    Yes, I enjoyed this too. And yes, I’m on the computer at 6:45PM on New Year’s Eve…

    I just wanted to remind you to use “Toxic Development” as a term. It kind of sums up some of what happened…

    Happy New Year from me as well!

  • 3 Daddy Mack // Dec 31, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Well said. It will be interesting to see if Markowitz, Burden etc. continue down this path with Dock Street and allow for the desecration of the most iconic Brooklyn landmark of all.

  • 4 evil empire // Jan 1, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Does anyone know a place where I can get a good Brooklyn or Citywide list of stopped construction projects, or ones getting ready to stop? Not trying to bug them- just want to keep the sites safe. Hopefully the list will be short.
    Many thanks in advance.

  • 5 mimi // Jan 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    what a great summing up of the mess ‘our’ leaders have gotten us into. my neighborhood, west of 4th ave., has been hit pretty hard by over developement and sad to say it will never help people with average salaries as brenda hopes. is $1300 or so for a studio an affordable rent?
    and yes, let’s wish for a happy new year and an end to ‘toxic developement’!

  • 6 Face It, We Won’t L-O-O-K So G-O-O-D in 2-0-1-0 - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com // Jan 2, 2009 at 11:39 am

    […] As we usher in a new year, we also usher in a new lexicon. Phrases like “dead projects,” “developer blight,” “developer bankruptcy,” “foreclosure” and “abandonment” will be a part of Brooklyn’s development vernacular in 2009. [Gowanus Lounge] […]

  • 7 wisco // Jan 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    “greedy buyers” !! what the h does that mean?? i own because i’m greedy? that’s bs. i own because i pay less monthly to live in a better place that I made mine and that I love. personally, i think in the long run, it will be a great investment, but that’s not why i bought. i’m a grown up with a family, and it’s the right decision.

    jesus. get a life.

  • 8 studioj // Jan 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Amen wisco. People will continue to live and buy property no matter where a particular market is valued. To call them greedy because they bought at the top of the market is an insult they don’t deserve.