Thursday, March 22, 2007

Are Wild Dogs in the Neighborhood Good or Bad?

So, first the relatively new blog, Found in Brooklyn wrote this at the end of a post on development on Bond Street, which is home to the building we call The Bunker and is where the Toll Brothers would build their big Gowanus development:
I'd rather live with the famous Bond Street wild dog packs than people who can spend a million on an apartment.
Then, Ariella Cohen wrote in one of her excellent newspaper columns:
The unleashed mutts that once roamed free and fierce on Bond Street are a species extinct, their habitat overtaken by strollers and Heath Ledger on a skateboard. And while the demise of the so-called wild dogs is one that has been amply noted by pundits and politicians as a sign of progress, some who live in the area aren’t so sure that their disappearance is a good thing...It's an odd time in a neighborhood’s development when seemingly sane people believe they would be better off living next to mongrels with sharp incisors and a habit of defecating in the street than stock traders who probably aren’t even home much.
Then, the Found in Brooklyn posted the pic you see here of a dog figure on Third Street in a post titled Wild Dogs vs. Fashionista Dogs and brought the discussion back to what's going on in Gowanus, writing:
I feel that unfortunately change is inevitable. Land is valuable, even polluted land, the best that we can do is be aware about what is going on and hopefully remind the developers that they can build but they have to be aware of the dischord that they may be creating.
All of which brings us back to wondering about the wild dogs that once roamed Gowanus and, much more famously, Red Hook, and about development.

Bond Street Dogs vs. the Toll Brothers? Revere Sugar Dogs vs. Thor Equities?


To us, the ironic preference for wild dogs that once roamed gets at--here comes the pop psychology--deeply conficted feelings about the development pressure that is on Gowanus and Red Hook.

Take Gowanus, where developers are going to push for fairly dense residential development that would allow buildings significantly taller than existing structures in a neighborhood where the infrastructure is already so inadequate that rainstorms result in geyers of sewage in the streets. Not to mention very real environmental concerns.

Or, take Red Hook's Revere Sugar site, which was the home of the Revere Sugar Dogs. Thor Equities original visions for the site, quickly being reduced to a flat and vacant space, included a BJ's Wholesale Club. If anything, it raises questions about the best use for spectacular waterfront property is in Brooklyn. Us, we would prefer low- to mid-rise residential development that creates pleasant waterfront open space and preserves historic and industrial structures. We would also suggest preserving a working waterfront and giving preference to important maritime use where conflicts exist. The Red Hook waterfront could have been one of the most spectacular jewels in New York City and, instead, it's becoming a cheesy suburban big box shopping center, a symbol of planning failure and design awfulness.

You can foam at the mouth and say that we're anti-progress or reflexively anti-development, but it's enough to make one, well, a tiny bit whistful for the loss of the wild dogs' habitat if not the dogs themselves. If the only choice one has is between the dogs and acres of parking with Ikea flags flapping in the breeze, industrial cranes preserved as symbols of the past and a big blue box store with yellow letters, well, one is tempted to bark and wag one's tail.

[Photo courtesy of Found in Brooklyn]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

while you may prefer residential buildings on the brooklyn waterfront, you seem to ignore that the entire area is zoned for industrial business use only. there are real reasons why areas have specific zoning restrictions, and preference has nothing to do with it. what you want for the brooklyn waterfront and what will work for the area are very different things.

11:45 AM  

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