Earlier this week, city officials broke ground on a brownfield site in Williamsburg, initiating a clean-up and redevelopment of Triangle Court, a vacant lot just east of the BQE. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and many others attended the event. The clean-up is part of PlaNYC’s brownfield and landfill cleanup program, launched last August, the first municipally run brownfield clean-up program in the nation. While everyone is pleased that the site is being cleaned, many local politicians and residents are angry that the new development will not include any affordable housing, which the neighborhood desperately needs.
Brownfields, which have been approached cautiously by developers due to a variety of environmental contamination issues, are vacant properties where redevelopment has continuously remained difficult. The NYC program allows for high quality cleanups and offers liability protection and other incentives in an effort to encourage developers to participate in the program.
“We have solved the problem of developers being reluctant to clean and redevelop land because the liability for cleanup was too unpredictable and potentially costly,” said Mayor Bloomberg at the event. “The city-run Brownfield Clean-up Program, the first of its kind in the nation, breaks the cycle of disinvestment and abandonment.”
The half-acre construction on Triangle court will have a six floor residential housing building designed by KOH Architecture. It will also have a ground-floor retail space, including a diner, a pharmacy and other small businesses. Once the clean-up is complete, the property will receive an NYC Green Property certification, the city’s assurance that a property has been fully inspected and meets public health and environmental sustainability standards.
However not everyone is happy about the new construction, with Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Bushwick leading the charge, citing lack of affordable housing in the midst of an economic crisis. “We have a housing crisis in this city,” Lopez told the Brooklyn Paper after the groundbreaking. “How does it deal with [the need for] affordable housing?”
Assemblyman Lopez has worked tirelessly to introduce state legislation to secure state funding to redevelop polluted sites in Bushwick and Williamsburg, in an effort to construct affordable housing complexes. Councilwoman Diana Reyna of Williamsburg agrees.
“This district doesn’t need another market-rate residential project, and we’re not happy that it does not include any open space,” said Bennett Baruch, a spokesman for Reyna. “That’s what the community wants. This project is not going to do that.”
Queens-based mall developer Meir Babaev, who bought the site last year, has blatantly refused to provide any affordable housing, saying instead that they want to build “affordable luxury rentals.” Oxymoron, anyone?
Lead image © Edward Reed