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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Rabsky Group, a developer who been trying to rezone and redevelop 200 Harrison Avenue, can add Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to its list of opponents. The Williamsburg-based developer has set forth plans to rezone the open land, which was once owned by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and to create a colossal eight-building complex. The proposed mixed-use buildings would vary in height from 5 to fourteen stories and include a total of 1,146 residential apartments, and 62,800 square feet of retail space in Brooklyn’s Broadway Triangle.

As reported by DNA info on Friday, Adams aligned himself with the project opposition, sending a letter of disapproval, recommending that the city deny the Rabsky Group's building plans. The project already has more than its fair share of critics, with several community groups protesting the project and disrupting and shutting down public meetings since last fall. Rowdy protesters from groups such as Churches United for Fair Housing, St. Nicks Alliance, Make the Road and Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, argue that the plan perpetuates segregation in the neighborhood. The Broadway Triangle region, bounded by Broadway, Flushing Avenue and Union Avenue on the border with Bed-Stuy has long been an area infamous for tensions between neighboring Orthodox, Black and Latino communities. Those tensions are now being reignited. 

"[The project] represents a chance to evaluate the direction of development in Williamsburg and ensure that we are creating opportunities for everyone to afford to raise healthy children and families in this neighborhood," Adams said. "Any rezoning that the City grants must affirm the standard of diverse, not segregated, opportunity.” In his letter Adams sets forth a list of modifications without which he said the project should not be allowed to move forward. The conditions include: the developer must work with the Department of Transportation on street improvements, earmark funds to fix the Flushing Avenue G train stop, add 24 more affordable apartments, and specify in writing how many bedrooms the apartments will each have. 

Adams’ letter was applauded by Rob Solano, the head of Churches United for Fair Housing, who said he hopes that the project is rejected at "every step of the ULURP process."  The group contends that Rabsky Group has not disclosed how many bedrooms each of the 287 affordable apartments in the project will have, and they worry the development may favor large Orthodox Jewish families. "It will continue the trend of exclusionary housing development in the most segregated neighborhood in our city," said Solano. "This plan is anti-black and anti-Latino and we are appalled that this project is still even being considered."

Rabsky Group has recurrently denied these claims, arguing that the city will run the lottery selecting recipients to its affordable housing. The developers expressed disappointment in Adams for bowing to the "anti-Semitic bullying" by opposing the project.  "It is difficult to understand why Borough President Adams, who prides himself on being someone who respects the law and enforces order, is in this case, putting those values aside to go against the most local representatives of the community and follow the lead of people who deploy some of the most thuggish, vitriolic behavior," said Lee Silberstein, a spokesman for the Rabsky Group. “As this process continues to unfold, we hope that the vulgar, hateful, anti-Semitic bullying is condemned, and not the project,” he said.

By:  Hadassah Kalatizadeh