brooklyn historical society
Exhibit Dates: May 23 - August 26, 2007

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Meryl Meisler
Bushwick Revisited
2007 Slideshow








Recovery | Hope Gardens | Partnership Housing | Neighborhood Redevelopment Program |Rheingold Renaissance Development


By Adam J. Schwartz

There was hardly a building put up in Bushwick between the late 1920's and the late 1970's. All that changed in 1977.

Over the next thirty years, as the Bushwick II Urban Renewal Plan was carried out, an ambitious series of developments sprung up. These include Hope Gardens, Partnership Housing, Neighborhood Redevelopment Program and the Rheingold Rennaissance Development.

Together, they replaced a large percentage of the homes destroyed by fires and abandonment and recreated the community lost in the flames.

Hope Gardens
by Adam J. Schwartz

Hope Gardens was a success of 1970's planning and design that emerged from the stark failure of 1960's urban renewal. The housing project
began in 1971 when an entire block was cleared for a multi-tower housing project and school that was never completed due to a bankruptcy scandal. The block remained empty for a decade.

During that time, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), Elliot Yablon and David Feingold from the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and Community Board 4 (CB4) took over the project and created a compromise plan. Instead of four mega tower superblocks, there would only be one tower for senior citizens and many blocks of two story residential buildings.

The project, Hope Gardens, represented a dramatic shift in public housing design.

"It is still the most successful housing project ever built in New York

Father John Powis
In interview 3/21/07
"Hope Gardens is place for real community: It was just the right size to create a sense of family and communityall the kids knew each other and would play together."

Anna Gonzalez
Community Board 4 Chairperson
In interview 3/24/07
"It was the last major public housing project built in the US. But it ended on this great last gasp, a huge number of houses built the right

Martin Gottlieb
Associate Editor, The New York Times
Former Staff Reporter, Daily News
In interview April 2, 2007

Partnership Housing
by Adam J. Schwartz

The Housing Partnership Development Corporation (HPDC) is a non-profit intermediary organization that brings together the New York City
government and the business community to build affordable housing across the city.

In Bushwick, another aim of the group, also known as the New York Housing Partnership (NYHP) was to remake the community by filling in the empty lots on the missing tooth blocks that dominated landscape.

The two family homes, known as Partnership Housing, were a great success and during the 1990s, became the dominant form of residential development across Bushwick.

Through the HPDC, housing ownership has been made possible for local working class families. This program renewed the neighborhood feel on many blocks in Bushwick.

"Public housing was not the whole answer to Bushwick. Eventually, you need someone that owns the property that wants to be here and invest in the community."

Elliot Yablon Former director, Neighborhood Preservation Office Department of Housing Preservation and Development In interview 4/3/07
"In the 1980sbanks were not giving loans because on some of these streets there was nothing built, so there was no value to compare it against."

Orlando Marin Senior Project Manager with Bluestone Organization Former Director of Design and Construction with HPDC
In interview 4/10/07
"Those empty lots! They couldnt sell, they wouldnt sell. Not for a dollar!"

Nadine Whitted
District Manager for Community Board 4
In interview 4/5/07

STUDENT VOICES - Rheingold Gardens
"The Bluestone Organization [and other builders] under the Housing Partnership created housing for people who were desperately in need, because Bushwick wasn't always a nice place to live. It used to have few housing options, and now people were being given new houses they could live in. Fortunately, Bushwick now has recovered from its worst days and now has made a change for the good."

Jaleesa Jordan and Shannon
Anderson Academy of Urban Planning

The Neighborhood Redevelopment Program

By Adam J. Schwartz

In wake of the fire war of the 1970's, there was a large amount of abandoned housing or repossessed property (for non-payment of taxes). Until 1993, these properties had been taken into the care of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)s Property Management Offices.

The sheer volume of these "In Remediation", or "In-Rem" properties meant that many became lost in the system and fell into disrepair.
(See "In-Rem" map)


Mayor Giuliani, with the local support of then city councilperson Martin Malave Dilan, helped to take the city out of the landlord business. Through the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program (NRP) and the Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program (NEP), the city transferred ownership to responsible non-profit organizations and private individuals in the community.

Ridgewood Bushwick, having proved itself in its partnership with HPD, was the biggest recipient of NRP housing. Under the NEP, responsible private landlords gained access to a large number of properties in Bushwick.

Together, these two programs were a vital link in the transition from public to private development in Bushwick and in the city at large.

"HPD was at one point the citys biggest landlord, and perhaps its biggest slumlord."

State Senator Martin Malave Dilan
in interview 3/15/07
"Before Giuliani, there were 12 property management offices in the city taking care of "In Rem" properties. Now there is only one."

Ann Marie Mierez
Former Director, Property Management Offices
Department of Housing Preservation and Development
In interview 4/10/07
"The NEP and NRP were a turning point for Bushwick, as it gave a second chance to all these rundown buildings, putting them into more responsible hands."

Angela Battaglia
Director of Housing Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council (RBSCC)
In interview 4/21/07

The Rheingold Renaissance Development

By Adam J. Schwartz

The decline of the local brewing industry had a profound impact on the Bushwick community. When the breweries were demolished, they left behind polluted brownfield lots. The Rheingold site was the largest of these, 6.7 acres in total.

Starting in 2000, the Housing Partnership Development Corporation (HPDC), Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council (RBSCC), and the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) came together with international brownfield experts to re-envision this scarred landscape. The Rheingold Renaissance Initiative transformed the polluted site with new streets, sewer lines and a mix of commercial and residential zoning. It stands out as the first large-scale brownfield remediation in the city, as well as the first substantial use of green roof technology in the city.

STUDENT VOICES - Bushwick Breweries
"At one point there were 121 beer breweries in Bushwick. As time went by, the brewing industry fell into decline. By 1976, the last brewery closed. Bushwick changed in many ways due to the closing of many breweries. The negative effects of brewers shutting down was that it led to many people losing jobs, stores lost sales, and businesses were shut down. The positive affect of breweries closing down is that if they didn't, Bushwick wouldnt be what it is today."

Megan Pagan, Itamar Adames, and Tamarra Lawrence
The Academy of Urban Planning
"The battle was: how do we get control of the Rheingold site? There was a garbage dump planned for the site, because the City did not think it could be remediated."

Vito Lopez
New York State Assemblyman Founder,
Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council
In interview 3/4/07
"It was a long and drawn out struggle to get control of the site. It took 25 years, in fact. So once we had it, we wanted to do it right."

Victor Robles
Clerk of the City Court
Formerly City Councilperson for Bushwick
In interview 3/12/07