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This Developer Put a Green Roof on a Condo Tower, But Then Another Developer Put a Second Condo Tower on That Green Roof

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It all happened very suddenly

Recently, Flipped managed to hack into the database of the highly secretive architectural firmWillard (+) TRELLISand get a look at some of their recent projects. Over the coming week, we will be sharing those projects with you.

When developer Doug Bennett set out to build a new condominium tower in New York City's Lower East Side, he wanted to make sure that he didn't rub the community the wrong way. So, he reached out to locals and set up public meetings to find out what he could bring, in addition to the tower, that would make his project a welcome addition. Overwhelming, the people he spoke to wanted one thing: a new community garden, to replace the one in a vacant lot that had been lost to the forces of gentrification.

Bennett was more than happy to comply, and built a green roof on top of the 30-story tower, where a one-bedroom apartment sells for $600,000, with free access to everyone in the community during the daytime. It was truly an inspiring story of a developer who cares not just about the bottom line, but about the people whose lives he is affecting.

Unfortunately, another developer, Gary Geller, swooped in and managed to buy the lease to the green roof out from under Bennett in a complicated real estate maneuver, and he tore the garden up and build a second condo tower in its place. Geller's tower is 18 stories tall, with fewer (and larger) units. There, a one-bedroom sells for $900,000. The roof deck is paved and only open to residents.

"This whole ordeal really gave us faith in the benevolence of developers, but then almost immediately took that faith away and replaced it with the scorn and hatred that we are accustom to," said community board member Jamie Stavrou.

Geller got his comeuppance, however—a few months later, his building's penthouse was replaced by a CVS.