Crazy. I didn't even know this tape existed, and it took being called out by Alicia and MTOPP to finally hear it. If I were a real journalist I would've of course. But I'm not. There, I said it. Again.
The folks behind MTOPP have been telling us that Eric Adams has already decided that Empire Blvd will be "upzoned" for tall buildings. BP Adams is ADAMant that is not the case. I'd like to take a look at that dispute a little more closely. Here's the Q's layman Q-nalysis.
Leaving be the fact that "upzoned" is not fully accurate for going from commercial to residential (mixed use is the politically correct term, apparently, though the money's in the housing), it would appear that in order to build "affordable," you must go high (look at 626 and scores of other buildings throughout the City). If low is what you want, you'd have to go market, with a FAR less than 3.0 (roughly 70 feet for most bigger lots, so I hear). But we all know where the City stands on that issue. They get none of their 200,000 units of affordable by building market rate. Yesterday we read that the Mayor is going to make it MANDATORY that you include affordable units for anything requiring zoning changes. It is not unlikely, therefore, that such a mandate would include Empire, should we rezone.
So MTOPP has a good point,, albeit stated, um, abruptly. If you don't want tall buildings along Empire, you might consider the zoning process a suggestion of same, because (as Jesse Hamilton says in the below recorded conversation with MTOPP - his name is spelled Jesse by the way) it becomes a bait and switch the moment you get down to the Mayor and Council. Even if you decide to build six stories max, there are plenty of points along the process where one can use one's political clout to say "but what about the poor?" and get one's way. As it turns out, "helping the working poor" (always got to include the word "working!") has become somewhat synonymous with the City's, and Eric's mantra of "build baby build." None of this is a surprise to me, and may not be to you. But let's get that all front and center. Where you stand on this issue should be informed, and Jesse and Alicia lay out pretty well in the tape, in their back and forth. Just press play.
A lot of the other statements on MTOPP's website are questionable in their analysis; I don't think that the zoning alone, or the density, is the real issue when it comes to affordability or housing prices. It's not likely that resisting zoning will lead to a more affordable neighborhood - there are many factors at play, including creating new housing with a preference for CB9 residents. It's not like halting building on Empire is going to stop price rises. And I think that calling Eric Adams, and the Community Board, and City Planning et al liars (and me a racist) are sure-fire ways to lose influence in the whole process. But that's not MTOPP's point, and if you haven't been around for a good ol' protest movement, strap in because it appears they're going for the gusto.
BUT, the fact is the fact, and Jesse, longtime confidant to Eric,
states it plainly - if the City wants what the City wants the City usually gets. Let me say that this is not, as MTOPP claims, a
smoking gun or "con." Jesse is not heard saying that Eric already has plans to
build high. He takes pains to say he is not speaking for him. However, what he is explaining, and he would know, is how the
process works, and why we should be cynical.
One last point. Jesse makes the case that what's happening here is analagous to what happened in Park Slope vis a vis 4th Avenue. He's selling a popular story, in my view, and I've echoed it publicly many times. He says, and obviously it's what this crowd wanted to hear, that the rich upper Slope sold the lower Slope down the river by asking for downzoning, or rather more historic district protections, and let 4th Ave go higher. I would like to see more proof, rather than be another rumor monger, but it's quite likely true, if not in the Slope, then elsewhere in town. People felt about 4th Avenue the way a lot of us feel about Empire - a waste of good land in a housing-starved city. I used to live off 4th Avenue, and people DID live and work there. Owners on the hill essentially got what they want, and renters down in the valley got the boot, if not by the City, by their landlords. But, like Atlantic Yards before it, there was a "greater good" to consider. Did we get a greater good on 4th Avenue? I suspect that's open to debate, though in terms of economic activity (or, total dollars, jobs etc) it was a net gain. I personally don't care for the business-less high-rises. It makes the place feel very unfriendly.
What I find troubling, and maybe some of you would find offensive, is the idea, expressed by Hamilton, that Lefferts Manor (a/k/a the Mansions as kids from other areas call it who go trick-or-treating there) would do what Park Slope did to 4th Ave - sell it down the river, okay, essentially offer a trade-off, because Empire is "primarily people of color." That's a big assumption about the Manor, and it hasn't been tested. Plus, there's lots of people of color in the Manor already. I would be more careful in the future not to label it "us against them." Me, down on lowly Clarkson, I've grown quite accustomed to density and I don't fear it. Perhaps were the LMA to weigh in, we'd hear a specific viewpoint. I hope they do cast their ballot in the very near future, and that Ben and reps show up at all relevant meetings.
I stand with Eric Adams because I think his heart's in the right place, and I think he's someone you can work with. If he's been talking out of both sides of his mouth, and it can be proven, I will be very bummed. But I don't see that here. Someone else want to shoot some gunsmoke and catch some real meat? Hey, the truth is the truth. I've been told that Eric met with David Kramer of Hudson, and that that is somehow a betrayal. Hardly! I would HOPE he'd meet with him privately, to discuss options, to figure out how to work together. That's how you get things done, and how you communicate. What, Eric should ignore his phone calls?
If you're white, and all this talk of race and class makes you uneasy, please stick with us. Maybe you grew up in an almost all-white place like I did in Ames, IA, and you feel like this is someone else's battle. I urge you not to take the fierce rhetoric to heart. In the end, it's up to us to decide what we want from our elected officials, and what we're willing to stand up for. And if you disagree with my analysis, and your name isn't NoSlappz or ParksideGuy, then I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.