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Bed-Stuy Block Under Siege By Development, Neighbors Say

 Longtime residents of Skillman Street say they're the latest victims of gentrification.
Development on Skillman Street in Bed-Stuy
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Longtime residents of one Bed-Stuy street say they're the latest victims of gentrification, as they've become overrun with a half-dozen construction sites building new housing — and filling the block with noise, dirt and broken asphalt.

Residents of Skillman Street, between WIlloughby and DeKalb avenues, say they're dealing with loud noise, cracked sidewalks and leftover trash thanks to a group of new buildings being built by Velocity Framers U.S.A.

"It's getting on my damn nerves," said Crystal Cummings, 48, who works as a chef. "It was a nice, quiet block. You could park. You can't even park on this side no more."

To some, the construction is a sign of continuing gentrification.

"We were here from the jump, when it was not going anywhere," said Lindo Cameron, 37, a home health aide. "It's building up, not for us, but for Williamsburg to move over here."

Construction began on four buildings at the same time on Skillman Street over the last year, sometimes beginning as early as 7 a.m. on Sunday, according to neighbors. They're slated for completion in 2014, according to the city Buildings Department. Two more lots are set to begin construction, with a completion date of 2015.

The rumbling has caused Cameron's apartment to shake, and the noise wakes her up early in the morning, she said. She's tried to ask someone in charge to change their hours, but to no avail, Cameron said.

"I spoke to him about the hours, and he said he'd do something," Cameron said. "I guess that was to shut me up."

But an on-site representative from Velocity Framers said it was the first he'd heard of any complaints, and that the company never begins construction earlier than they're allowed.

"First time," said Joe Rosen of the complaints. "My guys usually start at 7."

Large construction and delivery vehicles park on the sidewalks so as to avoid blocking traffic, causing cracks to the sidewalk, Skillman residents said.

Rosen acknowledged the issue, but said the trucks have no other option.

"Some days it's full, no spots," Rosen said. "There comes a delivery, where do we put it?"

But those answers weren't enough for some neighbors.

Jose Vega, 49, who works as a doorman, said he has to hose down his sidewalk every other day due to dust, dirt and debris from the nearby sites.

"This is what I do on my days off," Vega said. "We're always hosing down out here, trying to at least keep our property clean, but it's a waste of time. Too much dust, too much dirt."

Neighbors have also been approached to sell their homes, though Vega, a 42-year resident, said he won't sell.

"I told them I'm going to be the last one here," Vega said. "Very frustrating. It's horrible, man."