Williamsburg Waterfront Hi-Rise Condo-Dwellers Complain of Shoddy Construction: Should You Feel Sorry for Them?

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03/24/2011 2:55 PM |


The Post‘s Rich Calder reports from Northside Piers, the two-tower, 29- and 30-story condo development on Kent at North 4th. It turns out that, since 2008, when residents started moving into their new homes—which start at half a million for a studio—there have been serious complaints about the quality of the construction.

“A half dozen condo owners” tell Calder that “their walls are leaky and poorly insulated; mold is growing in the walls; and there is faulty plumbing, sewage, heating and air-conditioning systems.” And the windows, offering those spectacular riverside views, “are thin and the seams between the panes allow wind and rain to easily come through”—with no amount of duct tape able to spot the drafts, and consequentially high heat and electric bills. So, let’s examine the plight of these gentrifiers neighbors in slightly more detail.

A browse through Curbed’s hella extensive “Northside Piers” archive, which goes back to summer of 2007, is a good refresher course in the history of the development, conceived as part of the pre-financial-crisis development boom along the Williamsburg waterfront, and now lagging in construction (there’s still a third tower planned) and inducing buyers with deep price cuts and other gimmicks.

Calder cites “Williamsburg activist Phil DePaolo,” who suggests that the problem can be traced to developer Toll Brothers’ decision to go with non-union labor. (How’d he slip that past his editors at NewsCorp?) It was either cut construction costs or get access to affordable-housing subsidies, I guess.

Now then. We, as Brooklynites, know all too well the spiritual frustrations, physical discomfort, and very real financial cost of inadequate construction. So we are sympathetic to the plight of these homeowners—who’ve made a much more significant commitment than renters do, and with a reasonable expectation of, at minimum, comfort.

Still, how sorry should we feel, for the hardly unprecedented unhappy tenanting experience of people who’ve laid out so much money for the privilege of living in a cool neighborhood and changing its makeup irrevocably?

Calder quotes Northside Piers resident Andrew Turetsky, a 45-year-old social worker who lives with his wife in a one-bedroom apartment for which they paid $608,000 in 2008. (What kind of social work do you think he does?) They used to live in Greenwich Village, but, says Turetsky, “We were promised luxury living if we came across the River from Manhattan to be part of the resurgence of North Brooklyn.”

Hmm. I’ve decided, upon reflection, that I’m not prepared to feel sorry for someone who associates a luxurious standard of living with the resurgence of a neighborhood. Reasonable minds may, I suppose, differ.

But I feel far less sorry for the developers who dicked over both a neighborhood and its newest residents. Bring on the fraud lawsuits!

At any rate, the parks we got out of the deal as sorry-for-being-priced-out sops and/or inducements to the rich which we regular people are also generously allowed to use—those parks are really nice.

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