David Walentas Calls Brooklyn Heights ‘Old Guard’ Anti-Semites and Racists in New York Magazine Profile

You can call David Walentas many things, but he sure knows how to get attention. In a New York Magazine profile published this week the developer and King of all DUMBO has a thing or two to say about Brooklyn Heights’ “old guard”:

NY Magazine: His prime adversary was the Brooklyn Heights Association. There was a battle in 1999 over a Walentas proposal to build a Jean ­Nouvel–designed entertainment complex at the bottom of Old Fulton Street that featured theaters, restaurants, and a hotel that swooped out over the East River. In 2004, Heights residents lobbied fiercely against a Walentas bid to construct a 17-story hotel at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. In recent years, both sides tussled over where to locate a 1922 carousel that David and Jane had spent years painstakingly restoring. “When I asked him, ‘Can we talk about where it might be sited?,’ he would say, ‘I’m going to put it where I want,’ ” recalls Marianna Koval. “ ‘My wife wants to see it from my living-room window, and I don’t care what you guys think.’ ”

“They’re just stupid, insulated people,” David says when I ask him about the carousel controversy. “The truth is that the Old Guard up the Heights are racists and anti-Semites, if you really want to know. They don’t want anything to happen to disturb their little community. They don’t want shvartzes walking through the community to get to the park.” Today, he says, “the Heights people love the carousel.”

So is he right? Comment away!

NY Magazine Photo

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  • Oy

    What a bunch of bunk. Not to mention, anyone who uses the word he uses is the racist at heart here…

  • Fritz

    The BHA hired the JW Bush lawyers (Patton Boggs http://www.pattonboggs.com/ ) to torpedo St. Ann’s Warehouse development of a replacement theater at the Tobacco Warehouse. Or maybe Patton Boggs took the case pro malo. Anyway, BHA has been dead to me ever since.

  • Oy

    You dont like the BHA because they hired one of the best law firm’s in the country? whatever.

  • marshasrimler

    The BHA – certainly a bunch of snobs. yes. racist and antisemitic. This is one of the reasons they want the library
    destroyed instead of refurbished. The do not want those they consider outsiders walking on our streets. How disgraceful

  • HenryLoL

    That is just not true, absurd, and shows what must be your true colors. They probably dont want the old library refurbished for the same reason as most people in the Heights. IT IS AN AWFUL PLACE. And why not have some quality housing on Cadman Plaza??

  • Lady in the Heights

    Speaking as a Jew, I find that calling the BHA racist and anit-Semitic is harsh, inflammatory, and most of all, untrue. I happen to know many of the board members and Judy Stanton. They are all friends and neighbors and are not bigots, and some of them are actually Jews! Watch your words. You could be sued for slander.

  • Nancy

    I have lived in Brooklyn Heights for over 25 years. I have NOT experienced anti-Semitism of any kind from BHA or anybody else for that matter. I agree with Lady, be very careful about accusing people.

  • DIBS

    “They don’t want shvartzes walking through the community to get to the park.”

    I guess we now see who the real racist is.

  • GHB

    Since he says “shvartzes” in public, you just KNOW that he uses the “N’ word in private! What an a-hole!

  • marshasrimler

    look back 30 years and you will see i speak the truth

  • marshasrimler

    lucky you

  • marshasrimler


  • Mingo

    Just looked it up:


    Didn’t realize it was a slur.

  • Fritz

    Does best law firm mean getting George Bush to be president after he lost the election? Not to mention some of PB’s other stuff.

  • Jorale-man

    Wow, that’s useful context. I’d never heard that word. Walentas sounds like a real piece of work.

  • BrooklynBugle

    And in “hilarious” and informative context : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyjpStYJ0ZU

  • petercow

    No, he is using it in the context of ‘something that people that don’t like blacks’ would say.

    It’s a little confused, as he also accuses the same people that would use that term as anti-semites, but that is the meaning of what he said.

  • petercow

    You hire the lawyers you think can win your case.

  • Lori

    Where is the middle school they promised? Why so we have a vanity project carousel instead?

  • HicksOnHicks

    I haven’t witnessed any antisemitism as a Jewish residence of BH over the last 15 years. Its a shame that someone who I once respected, David Walentas, would accuse his opponents of racism. Is it not possible to oppose a development without having a jew hating agenda? His attitude reminds me of those who accuse Obama’s opponents of racism. Sometime you can just disagree with someone without factoring their race. I also agree that those who are quickest to accuse others of racism tend to be racist themselves, as evidenced by Walentas’ use of a racial slur.

  • HicksOnHicks

    You certainly are working the library story pretty hard.

  • HicksOnHicks

    So, because the Casino may have had a racist admission policy 30 years ago, we’re now a racist community?

  • marshasrimler

    Well its the truth and was said and overheard..so lets deal with it

  • Frenchbull

    seems when walentas doesn’t get his way he plays the bigot card
    maybe money can’t buy love

  • Giacomo

    Read the entire article! He’s an even bigger d-bag than his BH comments demonstrate. In 1 paragraph Walentas himself tells of once meeting with Letitia James to try and get her support for one of his ill conceived projects, and he boasts “I told her how I once had a black girlfriend in the 60’s. She lived in one of my buildings and sometimes couldn’t pay the rent” !!! Seriously. Out of his own mouth. He brags of calling a woman at a community meting a c*nt, and he’s going to call out an entire neighborhood? These are the kinds of Masters of the Universe whose “superior” knowledge and “civic mindedness” we are supposed to bow down to, and let run roughshod over our existing communities? And take a look at the renderings of his Domino’s project. Even the renderings can’t make it look less horrific.

  • Martin L Schneider

    I think it would be a lot more accurate to call him an arrogant, crude and vulgar person who behaves like a tinhorn dictator, using his real estate power to insult, condemn and sweep away any opposition. His arrogance has been totally consistent and hateful.
    I was on the Great Bridge protesting the building now under construction which crowds up against it solely to his advantage; and in the court room watching his proxies fight against his rigged effort to take over the tobacco warehouse.
    Then there’s his elegant, expensive but misplaced carousel. Its unnecessarily prominent and obtrusive location should serve as constant and cruel reminder to those who would preserve the historic settings and beauty of great structures in our city.

  • Frenchbull

    btw does anyone read new york magazine? are they still in business?

  • marcbolansghost

    So anyone who has noticed the increased VOLUME on Joralemon Street late at night (all day, actually) is now a racist? And where are the police to keep the noise down at 2 a.m.?

  • marshasrimler

    Face it there is a history of snobbery,racism and antisemitism here.. I resigned as a BHA Governor for that very reason and they continue with it today. very subtlety. but its there

  • marshasrimler

    Yet they do not want ‘OUTSIDERS” using our library … what do you think that means?