Opinion: Wealthy Residents Are Opposing Brooklyn Development to Protect Their Own Interests

Residents are arguing that a Williamsburg development would negatively affect the neighborhood. But it’s a grassroots effort to protect the status quo in a neighborhood where gentrification benefited them.

1 minute read

January 30, 2020, 5:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


By Mihai Speteanu / Shutterstock

"Opponents of a rezoning that is needed to allow a big new residential development called River Street, on the Williamsburg waterfront, are making some of the exact same arguments used by foes of a 2005 rezoning in the same Brooklyn neighborhood," writes Steve Cuozzo.

The site is currently zoned for industrial, and wealthy residents in the area want it to stay that way. They say that the proposed development would affect home values, cause overcrowding, and obstruct views.

But Cuozzo points out that many of these residents opposing River Street benefited the 2005 rezoning that brought 12,000 new homes to the area and spurred gentrification.

"Fair scrutiny and community input are fair. But while rezonings are rightly drawing longer and harder looks than in the past, it is worth keeping in mind where the harshest looks are coming from. At River Street, they aren’t from the poor. As in many other contexts, too often NIMBY-ism is all about the boutique preferences of the well-heeled and comfortably entrenched," says Cuozzo.

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