Coalition wants Broadway Triangle development stopped
by Andrew Pavia
May 15, 2013 | 862 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With housing throughout New York City being scarce it’s no surprise that an organization is making noise about a project they don’t like. However, it isn’t as common these days to hear the words racism, segregation and “Jim Crow,” all in reference to once issue.

The Broadway Triangle Community Coalition voiced their displeasure that housing is going up at the site despite a court order the group thought would halt such development.

At a rally at City Hall last week, Coalition chair Juan Ramos admitted the recent court ruling was confusing. It turns out that the court order only applied to the the city-owned land – abut 20 percent of the total site - but not the privately held parcels.

The Broadway Triangle is a strip of land on the Williamsburg/Bedford-Stuyvesant border between Union and Flushing avenues and Broadway. Critics argue that the city's recent rezoning and development at the site favors the area's Orthodox Jewish population at the expense of Latinos and African-Americans.

Outspoken Councilman Charles Barron called the project “raw racism.”

“We thought we killed Jim Crow a long time ago, but evidently he reared his ugly head through Mayor Bloomberg,” said Barron. “And any Jewish leader who supports this kind of racism should be ashamed of themselves.”

Critics believe that the small height of the buildings are attractive to Orthodox Jews because they can't use elevators on the Sabbath, and that the multi-bedroom units favor large families.

The Coalition contends this led the city to opt for lesser density rather than maximizing the footprint and creating more affordable housing.

In January of 2012, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the coalition, stating the city's proposal was in violation of the Fair Housing Act and issuing an injunction on further development on any city-owned land.

“The City Council, at the urging of the mayor, rezoned the industrial area to a residential area, with limited building heights between 70-80 feet,” stated the court ruling.

However, two projects have already been completed at 70 Union Avenue and 246 Lynch Street on privately held land. Coalition leaders said they have sent Hispanic and African-American individuals to get applications for the housing, but say they were turned away.

“Today housing is being built as we speak and permits are being issued despite this injunction,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna. “The rents, the selling of all this land, has continued to discriminate. Housing in the Broadway Triangle, which should be accessible to all new Yorkers, has been rented and sold exclusively to Hasidic residents.”

Ramos said the coalition was not attempting to discriminate against the Hasidic population of Williamsburg, noting it is important to include everyone in the process.

“The mayor has to face reality, admit his horrendous mistake, and move on to an inclusive process and real plan that will avert development of racially, privately owned properties in the Triangle,” said Ramos.

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