The last time we checked in with the progress of the 10-tower Greenpoint Landing waterfront development — aka Stephen Levin Towers — we were hearing concerns from the community about the decision to dig in a polluted Superfund site. Now, that they’ve officially broken ground — don’t breathe until they’re done — they’ve released more details about the project.
The developer behind the massive 10-tower waterfront Greenpoint Landing project on Friday broke ground on construction of the first three buildings in the complex, which will contain entirely below-market-rate units.
Neighbors say they are glad that the deep-pocketed developer will offer some units for less-than-luxury price tags, but are appalled that it is shoving some of the less-wealthy residents into their own buildings, instead of dispersing all the so-called “affordable” units amongst all the properties.
“You are going to know they are poor because of the door they go into,” said neighbor Helen Kersten, who has been a vocal opponent of both Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, which is another smaller residential project planned nearby.
Developers Greenpoint Landing Associates and L and M Development Partners plan to open the first of the three below-market-rate buildings at 21 Commercial St. in about a year (it has been under construction for months, despite Friday’s official ground-breaking ceremony).
The second building at 33 Eagle St. will open in late 2016 and will include 98 units for between 40 percent and 120 percent of the area median income, which would include a three-person family that makes up to $93,240 a year. The third building at 5 Blue Slip, which will be a new address created for the complex, will include 103 units, which will go to families who bring in between $23,350 and $46,620 a year — 30 to 60 percent of the area median income.
The developers are being tight-lipped about the amenities for the segregated buildings, but you can guess how this is going to turn out:
The first three buildings will each have a gym and bike storage, and the developers say they have not yet decided if the buildings that also contain market-rate units will have the same amenities or fancier accoutrements, said a spokeswoman.
Gothamist asks rhetorically “Is Greenpoint Ready For This 10 Tower Megaproject?” The answer of course being no.
From the beginning, some Greenpoint residents complained that the development could contribute to rent spikes neighborhood-wide, clog the already limited transit, and further the negative environmental impact imposed by the polluted Newtown Creek site. “10,000 new people are not good for our community, on one of the most toxic waterways in America,” Greenpoint resident Darren Lipman told Bedford & Bowery at a Community Board 1 meeting in August 2013.
CB 1 opposed the project then, though it’s unclear whether the more recent commitment to affordable housing has changed public opinion (CB 1 has not yet responded to request for comment). At the very least, the transportation issue will likely remain long after the first few buildings debut—though developers say they’re hoping to install a ferry landing right by 5 Blue Slip, there’s only so much population an area served primarily by the limited G line can handle.
When pressed for comment about the strain on transit, Park Tower Group Vice President Johanna Greenbaum highlighted the East River Ferry, expanded B32 bus service, and improvements to the Kent Avenue bike lane in the neighborhood, and suggested that the impending addition of Citi Bike stations in Greenpoint would alleviate transit issues. “There’s a lot of biking and a lot of transportation alternatives that are coming,” she told us, though, still, adding a few extra cars to the G train might help, too.
Transportation issues aside, it remains to be seen whether these 1,400 affordable units will make enough of a dent in the city’s current housing crisis, or what impact the 4,100 market-share units will have on Greenpoint. The neighborhood’s landscape is certainly changing—though only about half the proposed buildings have been designed thus far, at least one tower will top 30 stories, with another boasting 40 stories, and condos will line a large swath of the waterfront. The project is expected to be completed within eight to 10 years.
No word from Levin about the pollution, rent concerns, or the construction of segregated buildings. He’s currently focused on waging war with Uber.