Thursday, October 12, 2006

Snoopy sells Stuyvesant Town to Highest Bidder?

Reading articles in recent weeks about the impending sale of one of few large-scale working and middle income housing sites in Manhattan makes obvious the level of unawareness of what it means to create and sustain a vibrant viable city.

For those of us who have lived in any neighborhood for any length of time, the idea that you can solve the low and middle income housing crisis in Manhattan by building in other boroughs, as the Bloomberg administration proposes, speaks volumes about what is not understood about what it actually takes to make a neighborhood.

For those of us who have lived in and built the communities in Manhattan for decades, this is our home. And while we are grateful for the offer to build housing for poor/working/middle income New Yorkers in the other boroughs, we find the idea of locating or relocating the inconvenient poor, working and middle income out of Manhattan to be astonishingly arrogant.

For many of us, Manhattan is our only home. We don’t have vacation home(s). Our loyalties are here. We live here, we work here, and we tackle all the details in our neighborhoods to insure that they function well. We are the solid ground that stays here year in and year out. We keep our neighborhoods safe, we keep them interesting, and we keep Manhattan from turning into the pretense of a city. We’ve built networks that can’t be transplanted when our housing becomes the envy of the wealthy.

As to who owns it (“MetLife owns it, and they have the right to sell it,” - Bloomberg), well that is a big question harkening back to the Lanape Natives, but suffice it to say that these projects were built by the use of eminent domain and with the help of public money. That, and the whole notion of a city having the right to plan itself, entitles the city to be involved in what happens: including insuring that the MetLife site be maintained into the future as a middle and working income-housing site in Manhattan. We may expect a developer to be self-serving, but our city officials don’t have to support that view.

October 12, 2006