The Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, which is made up of 40 neighborhood groups, held a rally on Thursday, Oct. 11, in protest of the two new residential buildings, which they claim are meant to favor Williamsburg's large Hasidic population at the expense of other racial groups.
The coalition cites the rezoning of the 21 acres of city-owned property back in 2009, which they say excluded various constituents of the surrounding community. Broadway Triangle sits at the intersection of the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick, and is bounded by Flushing and Union avenues and Broadway.
“The battle is to stop the re-zoning, which was completely discriminatory and continued shocking patterns of racial discrimination in this neighborhood,” said Marty Needleman, an attorney and member of the coalition.
A Supreme Court judge did rule in the coalition's favor, saying that the city did seem to favor the Hasidic population during the rezoning process, which protestors say did not maximize the area's affordable housing potential.
However, that ruling was focused on the issues surrounding the rezoning, and the privately funded construction of the housing is still moving forward.
With the developers focused on providing housing for large families in a low-rise building, protestors say the development favors the Hasidic population, which generally prefer large apartments for extended families, and lower buildings because of restrictions on elevator use during the Sabbath.
Last week's protest took place in front of one development at 70 Union Avenue and then marched to 246 Lynch Street.
“This community is tired of the way that housing is being built within the Broadway Triangle,” said Juan Ramos, chair of the coalition. “We're tired of the way that we're being shut out of the process and any planing going on around the building of the Broadway Triangle and its neighboring communities.”
One member of the Hasidic community who came to see what the protest was about didn't understand the problem. Asking to remain anonymous, he said that if a building is privately owned and constructed they can choose to rent an apartment to whoever they want.
Representatives from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez's office and Councilwoman Diana Reyna's office were also in attendance.
“The city had an opportunity to make this a location central to many communities, many cultures and many religions,” said Antonio Reynoso, Reyna's chief of staff. “Instead of making it happen and making this community integrated, they continue the segregation. They continue to keep us apart.”