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Botany of Deception

bucolic bk There are, at last count, 544 websites devoted wholly or largely to Brooklyn real estate– it’s the sex, drugs and “indie rock” (sic) of a generation, albeit a generation that doesn’t know Mott Haven from New Lots, Midwood from Longwood, etc. Do New Dorp or Middle Village even exist? Somewhere, perhaps.* Likewise, somewhere in Brooklyn is the hulk of a 368-unit public housing complex. It was cleared out in 2002 as part of a much ballyhooed renovation. Once complete– in 2004– not only would renters there have nicer homes but some would be able to purchase the apartments too. It was, on paper, a genuinely innovative plan to improve both the physical and economic situation in a still hardscrabble part of Brooklyn. Briefly, everyone– except maybe some skeptical residents who’d just been forced to move– was smiling: the city, the feds, their private partners. As this photo from two weeks ago shows, however, by far the greatest part of the project remains where it began, on paper. How could this happen in New York City, the self-proclaimed “The Real Estate Capitol of the World”? It’s not all bad. With wildflowers in bloom, the neo-prairie effect is genuinely lovely, and those in the most pressing need of shelter know how to find it, which is the only reason we’re not blowing the spot. It does seem odd, however, that in such a robust economy, with so many attentive Brooklyn bloggers, the fate of this project and those who once lived there remains a non-issue.

* These neighborhoods are in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island & Queens, respectively.

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