Greenpoint Towers the 'Ugliest, Scariest, Most Horrible' Plan, Locals Say

By Meredith Hoffman on May 7, 2013 12:57pm | Updated on May 7, 2013 2:03pm

Slideshow
 Developers presented plans to a heated audience over their towers proposed for the Greenpoint waterfront.
Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street Plans
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GREENPOINT — Plans to "create a new neighborhood on the waterfront" of Greenpoint with a dozen towers, thousands of new residents, a public elementary school and green space met fierce opposition Monday night by locals who said the projects would ravage their close-knit community.

The two massive development projects — Greenpoint Landing, a set of 10 high rises in North Greenpoint by the East River and Newtown Creek, and 77 Commercial Street, a site with two slated towers also by the creek — would add about 6,100 new apartments to the waterfront in buildings as tall as 400 feet, developers and city officials said.

"We're trying to create a new neighborhood on the water," Greenpoint Landing development representative Melanie Meyers said.

But to distraught residents — who turned up in such numbers to the Williamsburg and Greenpoint Community Board 1 land-use committee meeting that many could not fit in the building — the giant "monstrosities" showed "complete disregard" for the neighborhood's needs.

"We have a neighborhood here, stop thinking that you're creating a neighborhood!" said longtime resident Barbara Vetell in response to Meyers. "You need to think about Greenpoint as one community, we're not separate...you're going to separate us."

That separation, residents said, would not only come between the current and future communities, but between the affordable housing and the rest of the buildings in the massive developments.

Greenpoint Landing (developed by Park Tower Group) and 77 Commercial Street, both required to provide affordable housing as part of their agreements with the city (as outlined by the 2005 rezoning of North Brooklyn to residential and commercial use), would have entrances for their affordable housing units in different locations than for the rest of their residences, the developers said of the plans.

"We don't want socioeconomic or racial segregation," said one passionate resident of the divide in housing units, which Williamsburg and Greenpoint Community Board 1 members also said should be addressed.

Other residents voiced concerns over a lack of transportation, inadequate park space for the influx of people and the towers' environmental impact. Two small parks will be created near the developments (the long-planned DuPont Playground and Newtown Barge Park) and waterfront walkways will line the towers' properties with plants, representatives said.

"Those two little green squares, if that's your idea of public green space it's laughable," said resident Kim Fraser of the two parks. "Once you put up those monstrosities we'll never get the water back...The last thing Greenpoint ever wanted was a wall of buildings. This is the ugliest, scariest, most horrible plan."

At Fraser's statement, the room broke out into applause, but city officials and architects insisted they wanted to work with the community to address concerns.

"Our intention is not to create a separate community, it's to learn from you," said Carolee Fink, senior advisor to Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, who noted that the project would undergo public hearings later this year and that plans were flexible.

And the developers touted their elevated buildings to protect from future storm surges, the elementary public school planned by the School Construction Authority, and the affordable housing that would go up as the first stage of the Greenpoint Landing project.

Meanwhile Community Board 1's chair Chris Olechowski noted that the companies were completely in their legal right to complete their projects due to the 2005 rezoning rules allowing high-rise buildings on the lots.

"We rejected the rezoning plan," said Olechowski of the board's decision back in 2005. "But we're only advisory. That's the frustration."

Public hearings for the projects at 77 Commercial Street and Greenpoint Landing have not yet been scheduled.

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