It’s the battle of the ages — but one not normally played out on stage at a luxe brokerage event.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams used his introductory address at a panel discussion hosted by high-end real estate firm Compass to rail against “unscrupulous” developers who, he says, have turned New York City’s hippest borough into a “cesspool of anger.”
“You may think that anger doesn’t impact you but it does,” he told the crowd, which included high-level brokers such as Compass’ Leonard Steinberg, Kyle Blackmon and Douglas Elliman’s Frank Arends, all of whom have sold multi-million dollar properties to the upper crust.
The event, which took place at BAM on Wednesday, focused on issues of development shaping the future Brooklyn and featured panelists such as Asher Abehsera of development firm LIVWRK, Lissa So of Marvel Architects and Nikolai Fedak of pro-development blog New York YIMBY.
But it was Adams who stole the spotlight, with a targeted speech about developers he says place robust profit margins over the welfare of vulnerable local residents.
“Bed-Stuy used to belong to people,” he said. “So did Brownsville and Harlem. Do you know how it painful it is to have the property you grew up next door to – and your mother told you to buy but you didn’t – to have someone else come in and buy it for $1 million? Now, she’s on someone else’s arm and you’re pissed off. All that anger comes from your own community suddenly being out of reach.”
The politico — who records show has collected thousands in donations from real estate interests — said it falls to brokers and developers to build sensitively and grow a moral compass.
“You can’t build an oasis of prosperity,” said Adams, who hasn’t been coy about his aspirations to one day be mayor. “We must make sure that, as we grow this city, the future and opportunities of others cannot shrink. The worst thing you can have is a full plate while standing next to someone with an empty plate.”
Some of the panelists, namely YIMBY’s Fedak, a staunch proponent of development throughout the boroughs, were not so sympathetic to the plights of “angry” Brooklynites.
“People are always nostalgic for the New York of their youth and you can’t really reason with that,” the blogger said. “Change is a reality they’ll have to accept whether they like it or not.”