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September 7, 2007

Down on Duffield

The Brooklyn Paper

Greenstein-BPsm.jpg Update on the fight to save historic homes on Duffield St: one resident under threat of condemnation feels that she could convince the Mayor to do the right thing if she had the opportunity to meet with him face to face, and another is willing to sell if the City does the right thing (and we're not just talking money).

“If I met with him, we could come to some terms. I know I should have a chance to try,” said [Joy Chatel], whose house once belonged to abolitionist Harriet Truesdale.

Chatel did meet the mayor in his first term — before the city hatched the multi-billion-dollar plan to replace her modest home with a plaza for office workers and hotel guests in a newly revived Downtown Brooklyn. The pair talked about improving Brooklyn’s schools, she said.
“It’s not about money in my pocket,” the landlord and amateur historian told The Brooklyn Paper. “It’s about economics. I know that eventually the city is going to steal [the building] from me. I want a fair price in the open market.”

The offer to leave comes after years of not-over-my-dead-body proclamations from Greenstein, who has been fighting to save his 233 Duffield St. building — which may have been a way station on the fabled Underground Railroad — from the city’s plan to raze it and six other houses to make way for a Bryant Park-like office and park development.

Greenstein’s change of heart came on the heels of the condemnation of property belonging to his neighbor and ally Joy Chatel. Expecting a similar fate for his own three-story home, he said this week that he would be willing to sell it to the city on the condition that a tunnel in the basement that could’ve been an escape route for former slaves is moved to a museum. He said he would donate proceeds from the sale of his building to commemoration project honoring Downtown Brooklyn abolitionists.


Posted by lumi at September 7, 2007 6:51 AM