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15 July 2014

7-story Apartment Building Coming to Graham Avenue [✜]

Marino Marble is set to develop a 7-story apartment building on Graham between Frost and Richardson. The site - which extends through the center of the block almost to Humboldt - has been stalled since 2010.

Industry is not Manufacturing: Tax Breaks to Set Up Shop in NYC [✜]

Tax credits from NY State are helping VICE move to 60,000sf at South 2nd and Kent (and add 525 employees) and Amazon set up a photo studio in a 40,000sf spot at Kent and North 12th (creating over 175 jobs). Both sites are in areas still zoned for manufacturing. Helping the moves are $6.5 million and $2 million in tax credits, respectively.

23 June 2014

Watch This Building's Wall Collapse Onto a Brooklyn Woman [✜]

Scary shades of construction booms past. DNA has more info on the collapse, including a quote from the "sad" building engineer.

18 January 2014

How NYC's Decade of Rezoning Changed the City of Industry [✜]

Eli Rosenberg, with a long, and very smart look at exactly why the Bushwick Inlet IBZ (and others) are broken:

But the massive redevelopment of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfronts and the sudden desirability of the area was having a trickle down effect on even the IBZ, a small wedge in the middle of the vast rezoning that had transformed the two formerly industrial neighborhoods. A night market and concert venue had replaced the bakery across the street, with the leasing agents pitching the "central location and existing, vibrant night life scene." A restaurant with a $125 dollar tasting menu had opened inside the IBZ a few blocks away. And the Wythe Hotel opened in Spring 2012 on the edge of the zone, quickly becoming a "summertime Eden" for a fresh crowd of jetsetters—a beneficiary of the nearly 200 blocks of rezoning the city pushed through in 2005, turning Williamsburg from an industrial neighborhood into a development free-for-all, as gleaming condo towers rose along a waterfront once blanketed by factories.

(A small point - people like to make a big deal about the Bloomberg administration's 124 rezoning ("nearly 40% of the city's acreage"), but they forget that many of those rezonings were contextual in nature, and did significantly change allowed uses or increase in any meaningful way the allowable density of development.)

Is This Mindboggling Exoskeletal Hotel Coming To Wythe Ave.? [✜]

Yet more proof that the Bushwick Inlet IBZ is broken beyond repair.

6 December 2013

Starbucks in Williamsburg - Finally?(!) [✜]

After a good 15 years of rumors and fear mongering, is Starbucks finally coming to Williamsburg? If Eater is right, yes.

We'll see, but for now, outlook good.

29 September 2013

Karl Fischer Has Scored a Major Coup in Williamsburg [✜]

Matt Chaban discovers 101 Bedford, a rather nice design by Karl Fischer, particularly at street level. A lot of this has to do with materials and scale - neither of which is particularly crazy in this instance. Unlike the last development boom, which gave us Karl Fischer Row on Bayard Street and much worse, this boom is less about glass and funky forms and more about solid, in many cases tasteful designs. 80 Metropolitan may have started the trend, but it has been picked up at 101 Bedford, 50 North 5th and others.

Grand Street: The Williamsburg Divide

Grand Street separates two neighborhoods in Williamsburg, and the Times is on it. The result could be the single worst article ever written about Williamsburg in the paper of record.

Already there is one correction: “An earlier version of this article misspelled in one instance the name of an avenue in Brooklyn. It is Wythe Avenue, not Wyeth”. Presumably another correction will be forthcoming when the Grey Lady discovers that Bedford Street is in Greenwich Village, not Brooklyn. Apparently one does not need to travel to Brooklyn to write about it.

Other than seeing that the Northside is different from the Southside, the whole article hits a discordant note – it is hard to find a paragraph not to object to.

Let’s start with North Williamsburg. Unless you want to appear a rube (or you are a real estate broker), there is no such thing. The streets north of Grand Street are the Northside (and it is one word, not two). There is a South Williamsburg, but it’s not where the Times thinks it is. To locals, South Williamsburg refers to the area south of Division Avenue (in other words south of the numbered south streets). The streets in South Williamsburg are named after signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the area today is largely Hasidic. In between the Northside and South Williamsburg is the Southside (also one word) – the south numbered streets.

The moniker South Williamsburg has been creeping north for a few years now, and I suspect it starts with a real estate effort to rebrand the area away from its Hispanic identity. When South Williamsburg started moving north of Broadway, I asked some Puerto Rican and Dominican friends who grew up in the neighborhood to define the Southside (Los Sures in Spanish). Their boundaries coincided generally with what I had always thought – from Grand Street south to either Broadway or Division, and from Kent to at least Union was the Southside.

To [Northsiders], the south can feel, well, a little too real: a backwater of vinyl siding, dusty bodegas, Gen-Y drifters and unrenovated dumps unfit for civilized company.

I can’t speak to the drifters and dumps, but I do know that the Northside has far more vinyl siding than the Southside (or South Williamsburg). As an architectural historian, to me the Southside is one of the more interesting neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with many readable layers of architecture and culture. The bulk of its low-scale housing stock is pre-Civil War brick houses and flats, reflecting the neighborhood’s history as the original civic and commercial center of Williamsburg (Grand Street was the main commercial artery, which explains why it still has so many great retail buildings). As that center shifted south, so too did development. That explains the large number of late-19th century brownstones and mansions in South Williamsburg, and the great buildings of Williamsburg’s second commercial corridor – Broadway. Both neighborhoods have a lot of architectural gems in the mix (check the AIA Guide, which doesn’t spend a lot of time on the Northside). Meanwhile, the Northside was historically the more working-class neighborhood, and as a result has many more wood-framed flats and tenements, many of which got the vinyl siding treatment in the latter half of the 20th century. The same is true of parts of Greenpoint and East Williamsburg (which, by the way, has been called East Williamsburg for 150 years – no rechristening there).

From architecture and history to restaurants and retail, the Southside is far more interesting than the Northside. I hope it stays that way.


20 September 2013

Residents Protest CB4's 'Private and Illegal' Bushwick Rezoning Approval [✜]

CB4 continues to try to dig out of its decision to hold a public hearing that the public wasn't allowed into.

Meanwhile, some CB4 members think that they can build their way to less gentrification:

board member Martha Brown warned that if they voted against the project completely, the developer might still build without providing them the affordable housing they requested… 'If we vote against this and they don't work with us, they'll really come make a Williamsburg'. said Brown

11 September 2013

Heroic Williamsburg Condo Owners Reminisce on "Wild West" Days of 2011 [✜]

Via Gawker, an excerpt from a message board for parents at the Edge:

Believe it it not, two to three years ago when many of us moved into our apartments, we were pioneers and this section of Williamsburg was still the Wild, Wild West. We were surrounded by warehouses, vacant lots, empty retail stores and half-finished/abandoned condo projects.

Believe it or not, some of us can remember when the Edge was a garbage dump (literally), the waterfront was closed off to the community, and people in Williamsburg fought to make the waterfront open to all.

Good times.