Coalition shuts down hearing on Pfizer rezoning
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 17, 2017 | 225 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week, groups of protesters opposing two separate rezoning proposals shut down a public hearing at Borough Hall.

Activists from the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, who have been fighting a rezoning at the former Pfizer site, joined forces with the Bedford Armory Coalition to voice concerns about the lack of affordable housing, fair labor practices, and the effects of gentrification and displacement.

They urged Borough President Eric Adams, who will have a say in the future of both developments, to vote against the proposals.

“Eric Adams has a track record of standing up against systemic racial discrimination,” said Josephine Amusa from the organization Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH). “We strongly encourage him to do the same this time around by voting no on Rabsky’s discriminatory segregated housing plan.”

The proposed redevelopment of the former Pfizer site at 249 and 344 Wallabout Street calls for an eight-building complex with 1,146 units of housing, 30 percent of which would be designated affordable.

The project, with buildings up to 14 stories tall, would also include open public space and retail stores, according to developers The Rabsky Group.

Critics of the plan, led by 40 community groups in the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, have said the rezoning would further segregation in the neighborhood and disproportionately exclude black and Latino residents.

In 2012, the coalition sued the city and won. A state judge ruled that the plan would violate federal fair housing laws on segregation. The court issued an injunction on further development on city-owned land in the Broadway Triangle area, but development has continued on private sites.

Now the rezoning is in the Uniform Land Use Review Process Procedure (ULURP) stage, allowing the local community board, borough president and City Council to examine and vote on the proposal. The borough president’s public hearing is part of the ULURP process.

“It is shocking that Mayor de Blasio is allowing a notoriously bad player in the real estate world to come forth with a plan that will further displace Latino and African-American families in the Broadway-Triangle area of Brooklyn, which is heavily segregated,” said Martin Needelman and Shekar Krishnan, attorneys from Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, in a statement. “It does not reflect the fair housing nor the affordability needs of North Brooklyn’s communities of color that will be massively displaced by this luxury housing project.”

Activists also protested the development proposal for the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights. That proposal, by BFC Partners, calls for 330 rental units, 60 condominium, a recreational facility and community facility.

Citing the lack of affordability, local elected officials, including Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and Adams, have all pulled their support of the project.

Stefan Ringel, a spokesman for Adams, said the borough president elected to hold an optional public hearing for every land use application presented to his office.

He invited people to submit their comments on the record to the borough president’s office.

“The outcome of the hearing balanced the critical values of free speech and public safety,” Ringel said in a statement. “Borough President Adams is preparing to make his charter-mandated recommendations in the next couple of weeks.”
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