BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Reno Dakota moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant from Manhattan to escape the “hodgepodge” of architecture in his neighborhood.
Ten years later, the Brooklyn resident fears the influx of condos and new developments is transforming his new neighborhood's eastern section into a jumble of boxy, unattractive glass and steel facades.
As part of the Stuyvesant East Preservation Action League (SEPAL), Dakota and others are cataloging local construction changes in an attempt to ask developers to curb many “hideous” designs changing the historic landscape, he said.
“We’re not against development, we’re against bad design,” Dakota added. “There has to be a way to work with them -– it’s only about the façade and we certainly don’t have any say about what goes on inside.”
New buildings popping up between Malcolm X Boulevard and Saratoga Avenue and in areas adjacent to proposed historic districts don’t fit in with the feel of the area, according to members of SEPAL and Brooklyn Community Board 3’s Landmarks Committee.
Renderings and recently constructed structures feature glazed brickwork and glass railings that stand out from the patterns of old brownstones and row houses already present, residents said.
One rendering set to replace the old Weinstein hardware store at 420 Tompkins Ave. shows a glass and steel industrial building that won't blend with the 19th century structures on the block, residents said.
Another down the street with a cracked glass design and balconies is "insensitive," according to a SEPAL post that reads, "gaze upon it only if you dare."
Locals said they would ideally like to see cornices on renovations and new buildings, as well as looks that fit in with the original style of the neighborhood.
CB3’s Landmarks Committee and residents are attempting to rally community stakeholders and create a dialogue with developers to address their concerns, members said at a recent meeting.
Dakota received a lukewarm response after walking into the offices of development group Brookland Capital, but received no follow-up information.
Representatives from Brookland Capital and other local developers did not respond to multiple requests for comment from DNAinfo New York.
“At least give a nod to the established designs of the past and don’t try to be so innovative,” Dakota said.
“A big part of the problem is that architects want to use our neighborhood as their portfolio and it’s rude. Stuyvesant East looks pretty much like it did 120 years ago and that’s a remarkable thing that shouldn’t be cast off because there’s new money in the neighborhood.”
In the meantime, residents are looking to do what they can to protect the “integrity” of the neighborhood, according to Claudette Brady of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation.
Concerns are on the rise with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build affordable housing units across the city, Brady said. A list of city-owned sites that housing developers can apply to build on included 37 locations in Bed-Stuy, with 10 in the eastern section.
“How many vacant lots are they going to build on with streamlined architecture for so-called ‘affordable design?’” Brady said. “Aside from the extreme measure of protest, at this point the only solution is dialogue.”