Sunday, August 10, 2008

"I don't believe in too nice (developers) " (Josh Skaller)

Here is another comment regarding the developers and development in our neighborhood........

Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 00:39:15 -0400

Subject: "Builder: I Was Too Nice" article in Brooklyn Paper Link

"Thanks for sending this around (See Jim Biber's letter in the 8/5/2008 CORD post below). All the points below are absolutely on point, and a very accurate rendition of what took place at that meeting. I would only amplify it with the following observation: It seems to me that the underlying premise should not go unchallenged. For all of us who believe in community based planning, the mindset of "too nice" underscores the low esteem the developer has for the neighborhood he's building in. By failing to address the primary concern of the community, that the structure simply overwhelmed the surrounding block, he was not working with us at all, but rather at best he was accommodating the minimum in order to secure political cover, while still making money hand over fist on the project.

A developer's primary goal should be benefiting the community he or she is working in - there is still plenty of profit to be made hewing to such an ethic. These buildings impact all of us. In that light, there simply is no such thing as "too nice." I don't believe in too nice. If that sounds overly optimistic, perhaps at this stage it is, but we need goals and standards around which to orient our responses to projects like this. Without them, we always slide into promises not met and poorly executed attempts at appeasement, which is ends up as window dressing - literally.

That there was a rare win for the neighborhood this time around is great! Mr. Biber gets it right - the question going forward should by - if we can do it here, if our elected officials can get it done this time, why not all the time? Let's use those zoning laws for the people instead of against them. If Mr. Stein can't make it work on the site now, perhaps he should be encouraged to turn the property over to a builder who will help working families with a project that stresses affordable, rather than over the top luxury...or would that also be "too friendly."


Josh Skaller


With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........