The last thing Fort Greene needs is more luxury condos. So when the news hit that New York State was considering selling its mammoth office building at 55 Hanson Pl. — presumably for conversion to luxury condos — elected officials went ballistic.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) said that when she caught wind of the plan, she immediately reached out to freshman Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), who fired off a missive demanding the plan be halted. He warned that the “sale of 55 Hanson Pl. will intensify the gentrification sweeping across central Brooklyn, and make New York complicit in economic activity detrimental to working families, the middle class and small business owners. That would be a grave development.”
Jeffries is also concerned that the sale of the building, first reported on the Web site, onehansonplace.com, would render state government even more inaccessible (didn’t think that was possible, did you?).
“There are 23 state agencies at 55 Hanson,” said Jeffries, whose office is in the building, too. “Brooklyn residents should have the ability to easily access state government … and 55 Hanson Pl. is strategically located next to a major mass transit hub, which makes it easily accessible to the public. If the building is sold, the state agencies would in all likelihood be scattered across the borough.”
And, it seems that for once, the state might actually be listening. It may sound far-fetched, but the spokeswoman for the New York State Office of General Services, which owns the building, gave some promising hints.
“The commissioner did meet with the Assemblyman,” said Christine Burling. “They are planning a walk-through in the next few weeks. We are still in the exploratory stage, and no decision has been made yet.”
Okay, so that’s not all that promising-sounding, but Jeffries sure seemed hopeful. After meeting with state OGS Commissioner John Egan, he told The Stoop, “It was one of those moments when I felt the change in government was a good thing for the community in terms of receptivity.
“He was very open to the concerns I articulated,” added Jeffries.
Even James seemed unusually optimistic, offering “kudos” to Jeffries for working so well with the normally recalcitrant state government. But, like Jeffries, she warned that, “[the selling of the building] would have been a major setback for Fort Greene.”
In a time when brownstones are selling for more than $1 million a pop, hopefully the state will agree.
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