Is Greenpoint the next Williamsburg?

As the neighborhood grows, mom-and-pops shutter

November 13, 2018 By Alex Wieckowski Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The American Deli Market is closing after 20 years in Greenpoint. Eagle photos by Alex Wieckowski
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Some call it growth. Others call it gentrification. Either way, Greenpoint is changing.

With that evolution comes the loss of many neighborhood gems.

Earlier this month, Greenpoint lost the American Deli Market. The bodega, located at 97 Franklin St., was a staple of the area, operating for 20 years.

The owners, Dennis and Yvette Camacho, received a vacate notice in 2016 and spent years negotiating their lease and even offered to purchase the building more than once, Greenpointers reported. However, in the end, no deal was made.

The Camachos are now trying to find a new home for their beloved deli, but are having trouble doing so due to the rising rents in the neighborhood. “The rents are extremely high … it’s much higher than we’re paying now,” Camacho said.

“This makes me sad,” said Will Hernandez, a Greenpoint native. “This place is an institution. I can’t tell you how many times I went to this place in between games of basketball and handball at the park.”

This storyline, however, is becoming all too common for Greenpoint.

In the past few months, several mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood have closed their doors after decades of business, including Cheap Charlie’s at 712 Manhattan Ave.; Green Farms Supermarket at 918 Manhattan Ave., which opened in 1977; and Devito P Paint & Wallcovering at 113 Nassau Ave., which opened in 1972.

“Green Farms was always the place to go for the best cold cuts and rolls, my grandmother would send us there all the time,” said resident Roxanna Agosto, echoing the sentiments of Hernandez. “Cheap Charlie’s gave me my first job at 16,” shed added. “I feel like it’s the end of an era and all our childhood places in Greenpoint are being closed or pushed out.

“They had everything in that store” said 15-year Greenpoint resident Maggie Delgado of Cheap Charlie’s. “Sometimes things you wouldn’t find elsewhere.”

Jennifer Quercia, who has lived in Greenpoint for more than 20 years, said she liked Green Farms Supermarket for their “fresh Polish food” and the fact that the business was family owned. She also misses Pit Stop Bar, a local watering hole that closed last year after 20 years.

“It was a great small neighborhood bar,” Quercia said. “Greenpoint was great back in the day, she added. “Now it’s ruined.”

The gentrification of Greenpoint can be tied back to 2005 when the area was rezoned for residential use by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

Cheap Charlie's closed its door earlier this year.

The Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning allowed private developers to build by the waterfront in exchange for creating publicly accessible space.

It’s safe to say many developers jumped on that chance.

There’s the 40-story tower called The Greenpoint at 21 India St. There’s also a 33-story tower at 37 West St.

Greenpoint’s most noteworthy development, however, is perhaps the Greenpoint Landing project site led by Park Tower.

When completed, the 10-tower mega-complex will have 5,500 apartments, 1,400 of which will be affordable apartments. As part of the concessions, Greenpoint Landing will also build four acres of waterfront green space, which includes Newtown Barge and Box Street Parks and a pre-K through eighth grade school.

Pit Stop Bar closed its doors for good last year after being in Greenpoint for more than 20 years.

The expected population increase, luxury condominiums and waterfront views are all factors contributing to higher rent prices for both commercial and residential users in Greenpoint.

A market report by GFI Realty Services reported that from 2016 to 2017, year-over-year retail pricing increased by 42 percent, going from $63 per-square-foot to $89. The price, however, looks affordable when compared to the $295 per-square-foot retail cost in Williamsburg.

Yet, when looking at residential units, Greenpoint and Williamsburg are nearly the same.

The GFI report said that last year, condos in Greenpoint were trading at $1,200 per-square-foot while apartments rented for $60 per-square-foot. In Williamsburg, condos went for $1,400 per-square-foot while apartments were $70 per-square-foot.

The bad news, however, is that the residential figures GFI reported for Greenpoint are “numbers that we expect to continue rising” and that Greenpoint’s transformation is “likely playing a direct role in the rising retail rents that Greenpoint is seeing today.”

In the meantime, many are wondering whether mom-and-pop store will be able to adapt to the changing neighborhood and rising residential and commercial prices.

Only time will tell.

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