By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The main reason Williamsburg got a side dish of affordable housing with its condo towers and downtown didn't, says Lander, is that "in downtown Brooklyn, nobody stepped up to organize. It was the whole normal process in terms of what the city did. Folks on the ground did not step up and try to affect it."
Now, with the 60-story horses out of the barn, the opponents' options are limited. FUREE says it wants to cap the height of new buildings, save the Underground Railroad site at 227 Duffield, and increase the affordable-housing component. "Let's make sure we're looking at at least 50 percent affordable housing, because you need to build for the people who are already in the area," says FUREE board member Murray. FUREE and Lander both feel that the city is missing an opportunity by approving the transfer of the Albee Square Mall lease to the new development consortium, letting go one of its few remaining pieces of leverage on a downtown parcel, without demanding any kind of affordable-housing commitments in return.
Gargiulo, who admits that he paid little attention to the rezoning plan when it was in the works, now keeps a petition in his store for patrons to call on the city to "reject the destruction planned by the Willoughby West Development Project." He recalls the mayor's recent statement on the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens: "There will always be one person who objects to everything, but I don't think anybody suggests that this society should stay back in the Stone Age and never move ahead."
"I got a thousand signatures in three days," says Gargiulo. "It's not just one person that wants to stop this. It's thousands."