Stalled construction sites add to more blight in Brooklyn

Leading the city in unfinished buildings: BROOKLYN….

*Nov 07 - 00:05*

BY Ben Chapman and Elizabeth Lazarowitz

Thursday, November 12th 2009

The city’s count of stalled construction projects in the borough has surged 42% since it began tracking them this summer, according to the Department of Buildings’ latest statistics.

Brooklyn has the most stalled sites of any borough, with a total of 245. This makes up nearly half of the 527 buildings sitting unfinished citywide after the collapse of the housing market sent many developers packing.

“They went forward with all this stuff, and now we’re paying the price,” said community activist and Williamsburg resident Phil DePaolo, who said the metal frames and vacant lots strewn across his neighborhood are a magnet for drug addicts and homeless people.

“An area where you had factories and life, you [now] have emptiness and darkness, and it increases the fear factor in the community,” he said.

Stalled sites in Manhattan have jumped 40% to 80, and have risen 38% to 25 in the Bronx. In Staten Island, the unfinished projects more than doubled to 33, and in Queens, they’ve risen 6% to 144.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the hottest areas for development just a few years ago, have seen 80 sites stall, the most of any area in the borough. Brooklyn’s closest runnerup is Borough Park, with 18.

Tenth-grader Kimberly, 15, who lives near a partly finished building on S. Fourth St., said she often sees raucous teens partying there, adding: “I get nervous walking by at night.”

Earlier this year, the DOB sent investigators to monitor stalled sites and issue violations or work with the developer to fix emergency problems.

Last month, the City Council passed a bill giving developers incentives to keep up their properties, allowing them to renew permits at stalled sites for up to four years if they keep up with safety requirements.

“We’re worried about the impact that it’s having on neighborhoods,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has also devised a plan that would allow developers to turn stalled sites into affordable housing. While the city may consider stronger measures to get developers to push ahead, many simply don’t have the funds to do so, Quinn said.

But DePaolo said the city’s current efforts aren’t enough, adding: “It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound.”

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