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November 6, 2006

City Sees Growth; Residents Call It Out of Control

The NY Times
By Damien Cave

Stories from the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning high-rise-housing rush will not give comfort to Atlantic Yards critics.

The City says that plans are pretty much on target and that they are managing the rezoning as well as possible, but existing residents, who theoretically count for something, tell a different story:

“Buildings are popping up like mushrooms,” said Christopher Olechowski, 59, a member of the community board for Greenpoint and Williamsburg and a longtime resident of the area. “Down Manhattan Avenue, all you hear are jackhammers. If you go down Kent, the road is being repaved.
...
In September, the city’s Department of Buildings received 337 complaints about construction in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, more than twice the filings from the community board of another fast-growing area nearby. In the heart of the rezoned area, near McCarren Park, luxury towers climb skyward, yet only nine new apartments of low- and middle-income housing are being built, far below the city’s original estimates.
...
Mr. Bikowski said that before the rezoning, he dealt with dozens of tenants being forced out by landlords or by construction next door that made their buildings uninhabitable. Over the past 18 months, he said, the problem has increased.

His current clients include a 90-year-old woman on North Ninth Street being threatened with eviction, three tenants in a building on Eagle Street being told by a new landlord that their rent is about to more than double, and a 61-year-old disabled woman who is being evicted on a claim that the landlord needs the apartment for a relative.

Other residents have become victims of backhoes. Elizabeth Jankowski said she fled her Diamond Street home in Greenpoint last November, with her 8-year-old daughter and 83-year-old grandmother, because the Fire Department ruled that the construction of condominiums next door had cracked walls in her home and made it unsafe.

William Harvey, 50, an architect who lives on North Eighth Street between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street, said the city simply seemed outmanned. Standing outside his front door, he pointed to five projects in the works on the block. Two doors down, the message “FDNY DO NOT ENTER” was painted on a red town house to the right of a poured foundation that made the building unsafe. Mr. Harvey said the tenants were forced out last summer.

“We’re in such a huge boom,” he said. “D.O.B. doesn’t have the people power to watch over it.”

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Posted by lumi at November 6, 2006 10:07 AM