As plans for a 28-acre park along the Williamsburg waterfront continue to languish, an alternative idea has emerged to transform the former industrial area along Bushwick Inlet. DNAinfo spoke with the developers behind Maker Park — a plan to redevelop a plot along the inlet into a space for artists and greenhouses.
Maker Park would be located at the Bayside Oil Depot site, a triangular piece of land that sits between Kent Avenue, North 12th Street, and Bushwick Inlet. The city purchased the site in March this year for $53 million, but hasn't moved ahead with any work there yet.
The seven-acre property is comprised of 13 different structures, according to the developers behind Maker Park: a three-story brick building, six truck bays, an abandoned garage, and 10, 50-foot tall cylindrical fuel repositories. The Maker Park creators want to redevelop this space into an exhibition hall for artists (in the garage), use the fuel containers as viewing platforms and performance spaces, and create more green space, among other plans.
Bushwick Inlet Park was promised as part of the 2005 rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which allowed for the construction of taller buildings in exchange for park space along the waterfront. The city however never followed through on this promise. Over the years, they've purchased a few parcels here and there, and even built a soccer field, but the park as a whole has not come to fruition.
A large part of this planned park hinges on the Citistorage site, which burnt down in a fire last year. The owner, Norman Brodsky, wants to sell it for around $250 million, and the city is now considering acquiring the property through eminent domain — though the city would still have to pay Brodsky a large chunk of money while talking that route.
The initial estimate for creation of the park was between $60 and $90 million, but already, the city has spent close to $200 million buying various parcels of land, and about $26 million on development.
The creators of Maker Park — Stacey Anderson, Karen Zabarsky, and Zachary Waldman, imagine this as an alternative with the plans for the waterfront park having stalled. Anderson is the director of public events and community engagement at the Municipal Arts Society, Zabarsky is a creative director at Kushner Companies, and Waldman works in advertising.
Longtime champions of Bushwick Inlet Park, such as the local advocacy group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park are completely against this idea. Members of the group told the New York Times that it would be an insult to reuse the industrial buildings, which were cause of tremendous pollution in the neighborhood, and that creating more park space is vital to the neighborhood.
A representative for Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Times that the Maker Park idea was likely unfeasible because of the level of the pollution on the site — the buildings would have to be razed, and the site remediated, if the property were to be used again.
The Maker Park creators plan to forge ahead regardless — they've filed a freedom of information request to get environmental data on the site, according to the Times, and they've also hired an environmental lawyer and a scientist as they continue to get input from the community about the project.