Last night, a public hearing about the contentious 77 Commercial St. development project — just north of the the despised Greenpoint Landing — took place in Greenpoint. No one was asked to leave this time, but it was still a very spirited hearing with local residents upset about how the developments, which will add over 5,000 apartment units to the neighborhood, will impact the community.
City Councilman Stephen Levin was in attendance, as was the other Stephen running for City Council, Stephen Pierson. (They debate tonight at the Polish National Home!)
Councilman Levin asked a representative from the mayor’s office about the $14 million reserved for a park on Commercial Street that has since been rescinded by the city. The city is now committed to spending a mere one million on the project and has been unable to explain what happened to the other $13 million. Visibly frustrated, the representative managed to dodge nearly every question about the city’s plans for transportation, fire houses, hospitals and other public amenities, stating that she was ill-informed and would need to comment at a later date.
Attendees were also concerned about “affordable housing” which defined low income as those who make $50,000 per year. An architect representing the developer was questioned about whether there would be separate entrances for lower income residents, but left those in attendance confused about the specifics of the project. Drafts from the proposal did indicate that the affordable units would be segregated from the 30-40 story towers, but it was unclear if there would be a ‘poor door.’ Many find it difficult to trust that the city will keep its promises for affordable housing given reports like this one.
NAG and GWAPP were also in attendance and drafted up this list of demands:
- 200 units of affordable housing
- The removal of the MTA and the ERB from 65 Commercial Street (Currently, the City says they have a commitment to move the MTA but no timetable for moving the ERB. After 8 years, that is not acceptable.)
- Restore the $14.5 million (in 2005 dollars) in funding that was promised in the 2005 WRA to build the park at 65 Commercial Street
- Explain how the air rights for 65 Commercial, which were appraised at $12m 8 years ago have now been sold for 25% less in the midst of one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.
- Restore the $10m (from the WRA) that was to be earmarked for something called the Greenpoint Williamsburg Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Fund. We recommend that this money be invested $5m in a comprehensive study and action plan for infrastructure, including transportation, and $5m in a Tenant Displacement Fund to provide legal assistance and other resources to displaced families in Greenpoint.
- Build the promised park at 65 Commercial Street.
Councilman Stephen Levin and his challenger Stephen Pierson are both opposed to this project and will no doubt be discussing Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. at tonight’s debate, so be sure to attend.