23 April 2009

Amanda Burden Pisses on Brooklyn Bridge; Walentases Make Reservations in Hell

Who will City Planning debutante Amanda Burden listen to, beside herself, Mayor Bloomberg and maybe Charlie Rose? Well, not internationally respected historian and author David McCollough, that's for sure. The usually private, grey-haired eminence took an extraordinary step recently by speaking out publicly against a proposed, god-awful, 18-story DUMBO tower that will block views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

But Amanda and her City Planning Commission voted for the tower anyway on April 21. Oh, but there was a great compromise that made everything better. The tower will now be only 17 stories. Whew! That's a relief. Burden, a past master at unfeeling bullshit, said "We think we have a achieved a balanced resolution to this issue but most importantly respected this historic site and the importance of the Brooklyn Bridge." She then uncrossed her fingers and winked.

It should come as no surprise that Burden has no regard for the Brooklyn Bridge, and does not consider that the structure belongs to the people of New York and that they, and not a few selected rich tenants, have a right to unobstructed views of the majestic span. She's Bloomberg's Gal Friday, and Mike has never shown any respect for anything in this City other than his position in it, and the ideas he wishes to impose upon it.

The tower is the work of the Walentases of Two Trees, who are now permanently on my shit list. They could donate their wealth to charity, adopt 49 orphans, pat every dog in town and spend the rest of their lives eradicating poverty in the Indian subcontinent, and—if they continued to let this tower go forward—I would still consider then utterly worthless sub-humans who deserve every evil mentioned in the Old Testament to be visited on their heads. They are enemies of the people, pure and simple.

Think I'm overreacting? Actually, I'm restraining myself.

The project will still have to go before the City Council for review next month. Anyone recall that body doing anything for the good of the people and the City in recent memory?


Blayze said...

Stupid white people. Well, I suppose we can hope for the council to knock off another few floors if we're lucky. 10 floors would be painfully tolerable in the least but 17 is still just obstructing everything.

Ralph Adams Cram said...


I'm as big a fan of the Brooklyn Bridge as anyone else, but really, why so crazy about this? I've read a fair amount about this issue and have never seen a decent analysis of exactly WHAT historic view of the Brooklyn Bridge is going to be impacted, from where, and for whom. Biggest impact, it seems to me, will be on the residents of Walentas' own buildings, who paid a pretty penny for their priceless Brooklyn Bridge views, only to see Walentas come back with a project that's going to screw them.

Let's face it: the City Council is going to chop this down another few stories, say to 12 or 14 floors. The Gair Building itself is 12 stories, not counting its tower, so how would this building be out of scale with what's already in DUMBO?

I've always liked McCullough, but quite honestly, a lot of the careless, crotchety, and lazy comments he's made about this have me thinking he's gone senile. A while back, he pointed out that the Brooklyn Bridge is a national monument (which of course, nobody can argue with), and said something like, "Well, you wouldn't build a tall building in the Grand Canyon, so why would you build one here?" I mean, do I really have to explain how stupid that comment is? Does he really need somebody to tell him that the Brooklyn Bridge exists, and has always existed, WITHIN AN URBAN LANDSCAPE while the Grand Canyon is a NATURAL SCENIC WONDER within a largely unspoiled setting? Historian, please.

This is really not a very big issue. And going so crazy over it just makes us preservationists sound like a bunch of salivating nut jobs who'll fight any sort of change, anytime, anywhere. It's nothing more than crying wolf. And that's not good for our reputations, or our movement. The idea that this is somehow "threatening" the Brooklyn Bridge is pure malarkey. Get over your hatred of Walentas, and let's move on.

Ralph Adams Cram said...

Oh, wait: Here's a Brooklyn Paper investigation showing very little impact on Brooklyn Bridge views. So again, what's the problem?


Ralph Adams Cram said...


One more for you, from the Brooklyn Paper, January 11, 2009. I don't know why I even bother, since I bet you're not going to post this or the map the Brooklyn Paper ran (based on its own investigation) that showed the impact on views to be minimal.

"Avella may not have seen this week’s print edition of The Brooklyn Paper. Last week, when reporters walked the streets of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, they discovered that the only direct views of the bridge that would be blocked by the Walentas building are at York and Front streets — a view that is not popular with tourists because Manhattan itself cannot be seen in the distance. The much more crowded tourist vistas from the Fulton Ferry Landing would be virtually unchanged by the Walentas building, which would rise behind the bridge’s spider-like cable array.

Walking on the footpath from Manhattan, the Walentas building is visible to the left, though it is in scale with the surrounding warehouses.

And while pedestrians heading from Brooklyn to Manhattan will have their view of the Manhattan Bridge and East River obscured, shutterbugs need only walk several more feet toward Manhattan and the blocked view clears completely."

For the full article, go to: www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/32/2/32_2_sp_dock_rally.html

Unknown said...

Nice post, but the Walentases are father and son.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Ralph: I'll post any comment, as long as it's not abusive, and it's signed with any name other than Anonymous. Thanks for your contributions.

Unknown said...


If you had done your homework, you would have found that until last month, the landlord for the Brooklyn Paper was Two Trees (Walentas). So much for an independent investigation.
You say that you have never seen an analysis of what views will be impacted? Have you looked at the renderings at savethebrooklynbridge.org? Look at the images from the Bridge walkway. The proposed building will affect the views of all who walk over the span, not just residents of Walentas buildings.

You use the Clocktower as a comparison, but that is over 300 feet further from the Bridge! CPC reduced the Dock Street tower to 170', but the Sweeney Building, 170 feet further from the Bridge, is only 155' high. Dock Street's tower would be only 96' from the Bridge, and would present a 55 x 200 edifice "in your face" as you walk the Bridge to Brooklyn.

As to the WHO, if it was only new DUMBO residents who were affected, why are the surrounding community associations of Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry, Vinegar Hill, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill all united against this project? Methinks you need to sharpen your preservation skills.

For a idea of another lost view, see the photo at

I agree that the Grand Canyon hyperbole was strong; I prefer an Eiffel Tower comparison.

Ralph Adams Cram said...

Fulton Ferry,

Please allow me to quote from Brooks himself:

"...A proposed, god-awful, 18-story DUMBO tower that will block views of the Brooklyn Bridge";

"...The structure belongs to the people of New York and ... they, and not a few selected rich tenants, have a right to unobstructed views of the majestic span."

As you'll see, Brooks was talking about views OF the Brooklyn Bridge, not FROM the Brooklyn Bridge. And Walentas ownership or not, the Brooklyn Paper study shows exactly what the renderings from savethebrooklynbridge.org show.

(BTW, glad savethebrooklynbridge included Rendering 7. I'd hate to lose that iconic view of 100 feet of the Brooklyn Bridge roadway from the street below. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.)

The fact is, the one or two views of the Brooklyn Bridge that would be impacted by the Walentas building would be impacted by just about any kind of viable building on that site. So then, what are the options? Would you prefer to see that site remain a parking lot forever? Would that be the best thing for the neighborhood and city? I think that, as preservationists, we have to accept that some things are going to be lost as the city evolves. What will be lost here will be fairly minor. Let's move on.

As for the views from the bridge (which again, were not what Brooks was talking about), savethebrooklynbridge's renderings show exactly what the Brooklyn Paper found: yes, the views to the north will be altered along a short span of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway. But if you walk a little to the west, you'll have the same view of DUMBO and the Manhattan Bridge that you have now. Even if a shorter building constructed as-of-right were erected there, that view would be altered along a short span of the walkway. That's unavoidable, and that's life.

Now, why are the community associations of Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry, Cobble Hill, et. al, all worked up about this? Beats me: this project won't affect their neighborhoods one whit. Probably because community associations tend to attract the kind of people who are petrified of any kind of change whatsoever, and require very little prompting to get worked into a very big tizzy. They're essentially professional complainers.

BTW, Brooks, what's with calling people you don't agree with "subhuman"? I don't want to compare you to Hitler, Pol Pot, or Stalin, but sheesh, you really don't do yourself any favors when you talk like this.

Ralph Adams Cram said...

"I'll post any comment, as long as it's not abusive...."

"...Utterly worthless sub-humans who deserve every evil mentioned in the Old Testament to be visited on their heads."

Of course, Brooks, it's not abusive when you say it. (The double-talk is astounding. I predict a bright future for you in the Chinese media.)

Brooks of Sheffield said...

You have a certain sort of point, Ralph. Of course my language in the post is colorful, to put it mildly. There was real anger behind it. But also a good dose of satire. But, also, one should remember, Amanda Burden is a public servant, one who is not serving the public at all. In her position, she should be prepared to take a bit of abuse, particularly when she makes decisions that are massively hurtful to the City, as she does again and again. As for the Walentas, do you honestly believe they care for anything but themselves and their bank account, and that they, like so many rapacious developers, don't abuse the public again and again (its intelligence, its welfare), year after year.

Do yourself a favor: don't find rhetoric to support the bad ideas of bad-meaning people.

I would expect more sense from a man who made the cover of Time magazine in 1926.

JaneDoe said...

It's about time someone called out the Walentas for the scum that they are.

For years, I have been hearing how they screw neighbors, contractors, tenants, even their friends, if they can make a profit.

Time and space doesn't permit all the examples, but I have not heard one good thing uttered about these lowlifes.