Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Meet the Most Outrageous Development Proposal in New York: Williamsburgh Square

Many developments in the city vie for Gowanus Lounge's attention in the "Most Outrageous" category, particularly in Brooklyn, where in some neighborhoods you can hardly turn a corner without your blood pressure spiking. Yet, Williamsburgh Square--the project that a group of well-connected developers would like to build on Bedford Avenue at North Third and North Fourth streets--absolutely wins the prize for the title of super-sized project that would single-handedly destroy a neighborhood. News of the project isn't brand new, but the proposal is so egregiously offensive that it deserves repeated airings. (Yes, if you've been on Bedford Ave. in the last five months, you've noticed the land being cleared--the image to the right is what might go there.)

There is no way to overstate the awful wretchedness of Williamsburgh Square. It is nothing less than development pornography, something so graphic that you can see it screwing the neighborhood.

Although a long and very, very nasty battle lies ahead, developers have already cleared half the parcel (which is an entire square block) and are hard at work demolishing the low-rise industrial building occupying the other half. The 675,000- square-foot development would feature four towers of 38, 36, 20 and 12 stories. In addition to housing, there would be a charter school, a daycare center and two floors of retail. The Monster that Ate Bedford Avenue would also include (you have love this) a "semi-public" park and 360 parking spaces! (Nod the community, one supposes, the school and daycare.)

It's worth remembering that one of the stated reasons for rezoning the waterfront to allow high rises was protecting the low-rise character of the rest of the neighborhood.

You could write this off an Albert Speer/Robert Moses-like exercise in delusional thinking, except that the prime mover behind Williamsburgh Square is former Congressman and Bronx Borough President Herman Badillo, and he has lined up people with significant political juice to stand with him as partners in Quadriad Realty.

One would expect Williamsburg residents to take to the streets to protest this abomination of architecture and planning, and they will certainly have their chance. Getting this puppy built will require a major zoning change, as the property is limited to a maximum of six stories. Hopefully, residents of the Burg haven't already resigned themselves the nabe's inevitable transformation into the Next Battery Park City.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Will said...

Holy Cripes!

But Most Outrageous? Whew, there is some serious competition out there to that claim. You've seen the Yankee stadium deal right? ;)

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greenpoint / Williamsburg residents are burned out after fighting: Waste Treatment Plant expansion, power plant, rezoning of waterfront, affordable housing, etc . . . But this will require community action. When will the new residents of our neighborhood stop primping and drinking and step up to the plate to fight this monster. Twenty-somethings, now it is your turn. Start something big. Fight this monster.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Brooklyn Salt said...

Doesn't look as though there is a 'land grab' for this development, like Ratner proposal to build a stadium on Flatbush avenue. Also, Ratner's projects seem to be more outrageous in the sense that he builds projects that end up being filled by government offices.

If I could find a way to build some cheap building, get tax abatements and get welfare check from my governnment tenants, I'd be on easy street like Mr. Ratner

11:26 AM  

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