Greenpoint Residents: Transmitter Park Development ‘Blurs Line Between Public And Private’
By Sarah Kaufman – January 13, 2017
The lobby a developer is trying to build that would look out onto the park “promotes nothing except insecurity,” said one resident.
GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN — Dozens of Greenpoint residents are furious with a developer’s attempt to create a “fishbowl” lobby within a private development with massive windows through which tenants could look out onto the public Transmitter Park, they told Patch. Through their passionate testimony this week against the developer’s request to receive a zoning law amendment to create that lobby, they pressured the local community board to halt voting on the amendment, said Steve Chesler, a longterm Greenpoint resident and community activist.
The developer of 13-15 Greenpoint Ave., Bradford N Swett Real Estate, requested city approval to build a building facing the park with a “fishbowl” lobby featuring a large wall of windows looking out into Transmitter Park, which would require an amendment to current zoning laws. In the as-of-right plan, the developer has laid out two buildings, each facing Kent Street and Greenpoint Avenue, respectively.
Over 25 residents spoke at a community board meeting Tuesday night passionately arguing for a “no-vote” to the zoning law text amendment, Chesler said. Instead, the group of activists said they’d like to see a 13-ft. barrier between the lobby and the park. In their opinion, having a private window look out into a public park “blurs the lines between public and private,” Chesler told Patch. “This design, as it is, promotes nothing except insecurity for people playing in the park.”
“This neighborhood is getting more and more crowded,” Chesler continued. “There are at least six construction sites in close proximity to Transmitter Park, and we’re feeling the walls closing in. The value of the park has never been higher, and you shouldn’t have to be in a luxury building or a tower to have access to it.”
Now, as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) to decide whether the developer will get the approval to build the lobby, the issue will be voted on by the Brooklyn borough board, City Planning Commission and then to City Hall, Chesler said. The community board and borough board’s votes are simply recommendations; they are non-binding, meaning they have no legislative power. Chesler and his fellow activists are gearing up to testify against the development’s request in front of the next legislative bodies on the ULURP list, he said.
“Transmitter Park is only 1.6 acres, but it’s just a little gem,” he said. “There’s a big, 100-year-old willow tree. You have access to the waterfront and the skyline. I walk my dogs there. I cherish that, just to have a place to shut everything else off and connect with nature, detach from the urban jungle. And so to feel overdevelopment encroaching on the park sets something off in me.”
CORRECTION: The Brooklyn borough board has not yet voted on the text amendment, like was previously stated in the article. The vote will happen on Feb. 6.
Photo via NYC Parks Department