Friday, June 02, 2006

Testy About Development in Carroll Gardens and Environs


Carroll Gardens residents are getting a little bit more testy about the pace of development and change in their community if recent events are any indication. First, there is rapid turnover on Restaurant Row on Smith Street, and continuing gentrification that forcing out both some of the business that originally gentrified the strip and some of the holdout neighborhood businesses. Then, there are some controversial proposals for developments up to 12 floors on the fringes of the neighborhood.

There is talk of pushing to expand the Carroll Gardens Historic District, which is currently one of the city's smallest. (It runs between Smith and Hoyt, from Second to Union.) A good account of the discussion is in the Carroll Gardens Courier. Behind the neighborhood upset are instances of buildings being shoehorned into small spaces between existing structures and, in some cases, being built over them. Brownstoner called a notorious case of the latter an "attrocity" and said, it "has to be one of the greatest bastardizations of a beautiful old brownstone we've ever seen."

Neighbors are currently quite unhappy about a proposed 12-story building on Baltic Street between Smith and Hoyt near the Gowanus Houses. The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance (4BNA) held a press conference with city officials and developers at the site last Saturday. Interestingly, it was was attended by Robert Scarano, one of the most prolific and controversial Brooklyn architects of the moment, who has nothing to do with the Baltic Street building. Accounts of the session are in the new Greenpoint Star and related by Brownstoner.

None of this, of course, includes the anger of residents over projects like the Carroll Gardens Hell factory to condo conversion on Carroll Street or the new Monster Tower on Luquer Street.

As for the Curry Source on Bergen Street pictured above, we note its conversion to a realty outpost.

Stay tuned.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The proposal to expand the historic district neatly exposes the fault lines between the old guard Italian residents and the newer yuppie buyers. Whenever I've talked to any of the old timers, they are virulently opposed to Historic Districts, because it would mean they couldn't put up ugly metal awnings or do sidewalk cut-through driveways (oh, I'm mean). To be fair, it's a lot easier to comply with historic district regulations when you have the funds to buy a brownstone today and renovate (the yuppies) as opposed to just living in your parents' house and praying your property taxes won't rise too much (the old-timers).

Still, I must admit I'm on the pro-historic district side. Without them, there really is no tool to constrain reckless development. And so, I've contemplated the fascinating levels of irony to hearing my landlord complain about historic districts but then try to stop them from demolishing and developing on a garage behind our building because it's historical. And of course, the added irony of people lucky enough to rent out floors of their brownstone at $2000 a pop complaining about how the yuppies are ruining the neighborhood. But that's life in our modern gentrifying world.

Still, the mood seems to be getting uglier in Carroll Gardens. The Italians blame the yuppies for the development (despite the fact the developers are invariably Italians from Staten Island). The yuppies see the Italians as unwilling to protect the beauty of the neighborhood. I think I'm going to get out; it's not worth being in the middle...

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a relative (coming up on 2 years) new-comer to the neigbhorhood, I was suprised to learn from a neighbor that the space pictured in this post, formerly CurrySource and soon-to-be a real estate agency, was once a car service. Apparently, on the wall in that space was a large poster of the Twin Towers. According to my neighbor, the service shut down on September 12, 2001.

3:44 PM  
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10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This neighborhood's been this way for 100 years and there was never a problem and now all of a sudden you yuppies think there's something that needs saving? Give me a break! You come from god knows where (mid-west) and you're trying to turn the neighborhood into something it's not. Let it be. Integrate instead of making trouble. If you want to be an activist, move to williamsburg with the rest of your frat crowd.

5:25 PM  

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