Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Protest of Unmet Promises of Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports about the latest protest against the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning by FUREE:
According to FUREE, the thousands of new residents in the downtown and nearby Fort Greene areas in the past five years were promised good schools and a supermarket in a bid to get them to move into recently built condominiums. Some were also told that adjacent public housing developments would be torn down. What low-income and working class residents are experiencing is nothing short of “economic segregation,” they say, and they are still waiting for the affordable housing and good-paying jobs that were supposed to come under the city’s Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning Plan.

To read more, click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FUREE: OPEN LETTER to New Luxury Tower Residents, Area Developers, City/State Agencies, Local Elected Officials and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Atlantic Yards is hardly the only example of abuse of eminent domain or of outrageous backroom deals benefiting private developers at the expense of the public. The most vocal and thorough critic of the Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning is FUREE, and they just published an OPEN LETTER to New Luxury Tower Residents, Area Developers, City/State Agencies, Local Elected Officials and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

Here are excerpts of their priorities and shared principles for accountable development, focusing on issues most closely related to this blog:
  • PUBLIC HOUSING: Real estate brokers must stop making false statements to prospective condo buyers claiming that nearby public housing will be torn down. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) must also clearly reject all policies to privatize public housing and must swiftly open up the hundreds of currently vacant public housing apartments in Fort Greene to families in need.
  • ALBEE SQUARE FAMILIES: It is a travesty that the only affordable housing development in Downtown Brooklyn is slated for demolition. Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) owes the low-income, immigrant families living in the Albee Square houses who are being forced out through eminent domain, genuine relocation assistance to new affordable apartments and decent living conditions.
  • ACCESS TO PUBLIC SPACE: The proposed new Willoughby Square Park (and massive underground parking lot) must not become a pseudo-public space that caters mostly to the surrounding new hotels and luxury tower residents. There must be genuine public input from all stakeholders, including the low-income community members, as the planning process proceeds. Other supposedly public spaces, such as Metrotech Plaza, must not discriminate against or harass low-income area residents and youth of color.
Read more here.

Hotel 718 in the press, with some amnesia

A couple news outlets have reprinted the V3's press release about the Hotel 718, the soon-to-be opened hotel on 231 Abolitionist Place, also known as Duffield Street. Here is a sample of how Downtown Brooklyn is now being marketed—this was published in American Banking and Marketing News, SunHerald.com, HospitalityNet and (with slight variation) CityBiz:
The property is within walking distance of MetroTech Center, court buildings and both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, offering easy access to Brooklyn’s rich cultural amenities. These include the world-renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Frederick Law Olmsted’s masterfully-designed Prospect Park, and countless vibrant and diverse cultural and entertainment attractions day and night.
The biggest irony in these articles is this statement:
The 19-story, $25 million hotel is set to open in November 2011 and will celebrate the heritage and culture of Brooklyn, New York.

For those who aren't aware of the important historical significance of Abolitionist Place, it was the home of several important abolitionists, and is likely a stop on the Underground Railroad in a city that was violently anti-Abolitionist. The home at 231 Duffield/Abolitionist Place was built around 1850, and while it was not as famous at 227 Duffield, it was potentially even more important. The new hotel "celebrated" this history by demolishing the previous building without giving anyone a chance to study the unusual architectural features.

At least Curbed gives a much more insightful and snarky coverage. The photo here is from their article.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

V3 Hotel now called "Hotel 718"

Brownstoner reports on the new name of the V3 hotel at 229-231 Duffield Street:
A press release brings new info about the V3 hotel rising at 231 Duffield in Downtown: It's going to be dubbed "Hotel 718" and is scheduled to open in November. The release also says the 128-room property will have a 75-seat bar and restaurant, and amenities will include "spa services, a fitness center and cardio room, and 24-hour Brooklyn-centric concierge services."

Abolitionist-deniers lose funding

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, one of the great cheerleaders for demolishing the Abolitionist and Underground Railroad history on Duffield Street, are losing some of their generous taxpayer support. While schools and firehouses are facing massive cuts, Borough President Marty Markowitz came to the defense of the highly-capitalized partnership:

Markowitz indicated the city should continue to help defray the cost of running the DBP.

“I applaud Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s work, and it is absolutely critical that the City continue to support our vibrant downtown — New York City’s third largest business district — and emphasize economic development here as new hotels, Class A office space, residential developments and retail businesses come on line,” said Markowitz.

But City Council member Lew Fidler feels that DBP salaries are too high, with several members getting fairly high six-figure salaries, including President Joe Chan, who makes $220,000.

“There are other ways of planning for and promoting downtown Brooklyn other than an organization funded with public money,” said Fidler. “There’s already a lot of big developers and BID (Business Improvement Districts) that can contribute.”

Read more at BoroPolitics.

City Point dumps scandal-tainted developer

The massive City Point development, which is getting $20,000,000 in tax-exempt federal stimulus, is dumping Aaron Malinsky, the developer associated with the Carl Kruger corruption scandal. Read the Brooklyn Paper article here.

Aloft Opening now scheduled 5/5/11

I put March 31, 2011 into Google Calendar as the opening date of aloft hotel on Duffield Street. What a surprise! It's been rescheduled to May 5, 2011, according to the Starwoods Hotel website.

Back on October 13, 2010, we reported the scheduled opening date to be January 20, 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kruger scandal touches City Point in Downtown Brooklyn

The bribery scandal implicating State Senator Carl Kruger touches on some Downtown Brooklyn issues. In Developer at Brooklyn Navy Yard charged in federal bribery case, the Real Deal reports this:
Prosecutors allege Aaron Malinsky, a principal with PA Associates, made the payments to an entity called Olympian Strategic Development, wand that money was used to improperly benefit Kruger (see complaint below). Kruger allegedly received at least $1 million in bribes from Malinsky and others between 2006 and 2011, investigators said.
The article continues:
PA Associates is developing a 50,000-square-foot retail building at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn.
Read more here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

BK Paper: Downtown BK population up 2,900%

The Brooklyn Paper writes about the dramatic population growth of Downtown Brooklyn due to the rezoning in Boom! Downtown population is exploding faster than the Sun Belt:

Twelve thousand people now live in Downtown, up from a mere 400 residents in 2000. That’s a 2,900-percent increase during the same time when the population of the city overall grew about five percent.
To read the article, click here.

The primary goal of the rezoning was the increase office space, but instead it mostly created office space, displacing small entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BK Eagle: Tight, Family-Based Ownership Still Rules Fulton Mall

There an interesting article on the new Downtown Brooklyn. Here's a bit from Tight, Family-Based Ownership Still Rules Fulton Mall:

Michael Chera and his Allied Property Group, which owns 523 Fulton, told The Real Deal that he sees Fulton Mall as a “34th Street and Times Square hybrid,” where national chains within reach of the middle class can prosper.

Stanley and Isaac Chera of Crown Acquisitions, who in partnership with Eli Gindi own 490 Fulton and were responsible for bringing Syms/Filene’s Basement to the mall, still have 38,000 square feet of street-level retail to lease.

“In the last 60 to 90 days, interest in the property has intensified immensely,” Isaac told The Real Deal. “I’m on the street at least three times a week with different tenants. They’re doing their homework.”

d more here.