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Judge halts B’way Triangle plan over bias against blacks, Latinos

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A judge blocked Mayor Bloomberg’s bid to build affordable housing in South Williamsburg, siding with opponents who claim the project favors Hasidic Jews and is biased against blacks and Latinos.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Emily Goodman’s Dec. 23 ruling bars the Bloomberg administration from constructing 181 apartments on three city-owned sites near Throop Avenue in an area dubbed the Broadway Triangle.

The housing would have unfairly benefited Hasidic Jews because 43 percent of the units would be three or four-bedroom apartments — residences that would disproportionately go to Hasidic Jewish families, which are generally larger, rather than black or Latino families, which are typically smaller.

“The community preference only serves to perpetuate segregation in the Broadway Triangle,” Goodman wrote. “[The city] failed to consider the impact of the development on racial segregation.”

Goodman also blasted the city’s plan to build low-rise buildings instead of skyscraping towers with more units — a decision that favors religious Jews who refuse to use elevators on the Sabbath, according to opponents.

The residences in question are just a part of the city’s highly contentious plan to build 1,851 apartments, half of which would be set aside for low and middle-income families.

The city rezoned the Broadway Triangle to allow residential development in 2009, but the plan has been stalled since opponents filed a lawsuit the day after the project was approved by the City Council.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time and now our voices have been heard,” said Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, which is made up of 40 neighborhood groups opposed to the plan. “This project was being pushed into the community.”

From the start, critics claimed the project was crooked because the city issued no-bid contracts to two politically connected non-profit developers, United Jewish Organizations and Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which was founded by project supporter and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).

Last January, Goodman took a swing at the project, ordering a temporary stay after two federal agencies and the state launched investigations into Ridgewood Bushwick and its connection to Lopez.

Critics of the project including Marty Needleman, an attorney for opposition groups, claim the latest decision will force the city to scrap its plans and start over — perhaps leading to a bigger and taller buildings with more apartments.

“The city has to let go,” said Needleman, citing federal housing guidelines that bar municipalities from backing projects that segregate communities. “The facts in the law are so clear.”

But the city wants to move forward with its plan and promises to fight the decision.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision and will seek an immediate appeal,” said Gabriel Taussig, chief of the city’s Law Division.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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Reader Feedback

anywho says:
About time!
Jan. 5, 2012, 9:25 pm
manhatposeur from portlyn lakes park says:
No elevators? I dont mind 3 to 4 bedroom apartments. How about make these buildings artist friendly.
Jan. 6, 2012, 8:52 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Excuse me--what is it that they need to be "artist friendly"? That term is so ridiculous that it should be rejected prima facie. "Art" doesn't need "friendly conditions" to exist. Art is pervasive and proliferates in the most hostile settings--indeed, some of the most incredible art imaginable generates as such. What you mean by "artist friendly" is to remove the black and Latino population and make it "white friendly", so stop with the Orwellian BS. Just so you know, if you want "artist friendly" go to El Puente on South 4th Street--the Latinos of the neighborhood have the singular distinction of having the longest running and most productive art institution in the area. You can take cue from them on what is truly "art friendly."
Jan. 6, 2012, 1:20 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
That is, unless you mean opening an art supply store in the Triangle's eventual lobby, employing residents and offering them classes and facilitating career development in the arts--absolutely! An art school for the residents--most definitely. Subsidized materials, teachers--please do so!

But that is not what you mean by "artist friendly." What in fact you mean by artist-friendly is this creepy response you posted on the Gothamist website:

"Hmm i see more asians, not just asian chicks & their white manz, but gentrification has made it safe for diversity upsetting the old time white people, the hassids, some ethnic whites, low income-low educated blacks & latinos because it disrupts their sense of order.
Perhaps they are freaked out when they see a multiracial group laughing & drinking having a good only unfied in their dress of skinny jeans, tight brauny man flannel shirts, & oversized nerd eye wear & moldy sneakers."

This is what you think is art--God help us.
Jan. 6, 2012, 1:26 pm
k from your hood says:
always amuses me and makes me sick at the same time when i see these groups fighting to get a practically free roof over there head and not fighting to get ahead in life on their own like the rest of us hard working people caught in the middle getting our tax dollars spent on these leaches
Jan. 6, 2012, 1:40 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Excuse me, what proof do you have that it will be a "practically free roof"? That the people there are not "hard working"? Don't project a hateful fantasy in your head onto reality when reality says otherwise.

First off, not all the units being built on this site are "affordable housing." In the most generous estimate, roughly 50% will be. Nevertheless, each will be paying rent--affordable and market rate. Or did we live in some fantasy where you think you're the only hard-working person in the world, and everyone else is a leech? And you think the City and the developers are building this project because they're altruistic and want to somehow exclude "hard working people" from the site? Give me a break. Bloomberg proposed this project to appease the Satmarim voting bloc he culled during his previous elections, and the developers are doing it for the cold hard cash--if you have any beef it should be with them.

And try some hard-work on spelling, alright? Inability to spell while condemning other people is not convincing us that you're a contributing member to society.
Jan. 6, 2012, 1:55 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Anyone who wants to know what the people behind the coalition are really like should contact them directly and avoid perverse masturbatory "artist-friendliness" like that from manhatposeur or disturbed hateful misspelled fantasies like "k":
http://www.broadwaytriangle.com/
Jan. 6, 2012, 2 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Whats your problem having money and moving into my neighborhood
nihil spurcius est te! Thats latin you spoiled white kids, I didn't even go to college and I know that.
God you white people make me so mad!
Jan. 6, 2012, 2:33 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
That wasn't me, but thank you for flattering me with your impersonation--clearly you are threatened by what I write and want to mischaracterize me as "anti-white."
Jan. 6, 2012, 2:36 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
But if you really want to get into some latin about this gentrification, try "ex nihilo nihil fit"--that one makes much more sense.
Jan. 6, 2012, 2:39 pm
jml says:
Jews don't "refuse" to use an elevator during sabbath - they are prohibited from doing so by their religion. This is sloppy journalism, demonstrating an inability by the writer and editor of this story to do even basic fact-checking. Sad. I would expect better from a first-year journalism student, let alone an established paper.
Jan. 6, 2012, 3:56 pm
manhatposeur from Portlyn Lakes Park says:
To Dennis sinneD

You must have low self-esteem if you think that artist is code word for white/non-black-latino gentrifiers. But believe me, there are black college educated gentrifiers hanging in the greater hood of North Brooklyn.
The buildings could be dedicated to residents who are actually artist. No one said build doorman buildings.
Besides you have the hassids who will chase the black-latino non-college educated types.

Perhaps I should distinctly phrased itas Hipster friendly buildings. But that would already raise the ire of the hassids.

And also the gothamist post strikes a cord. You can have a different skin color, and perhaps a different cultural non-english speaking culture but have a common mind set. And that freaks out certain people.
Jan. 6, 2012, 4:16 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Your nonsense is refuted by the simple fact that no one, no one, not the Poles, not the Italians, and certainly not the Hasidim, have been as hospitable to artists in Williamsburg as the Puerto Rican community. No one. Firstly, the longest running institution of art in Williamsburg is El Puente on South 4th--no gallery, no bohemian organization, no landlord has ever employed as many of the artists as El Puente continues to do after close to 20 years of operation. In fact, the gentrification of North Brooklyn was instigated by the employees of community organizations like El Puente and Los Sures--the People's Firehouse only began to employ such "hipsters" well after the Southside was already doing so, and only as "grant-writers" and "community organizers," never, unlike El Puente, as artists or art teachers. Furthermore, there is no organization in any of those aforementioned communities that has employed "artists" like the community organizations in the Southside. Add to that the fact that none of those communities [except for the Satmarim] have any educational institutions that add to the cultural dimensions of the neighborhood, period. And the Satmarim, unlike the Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood, do not employ artists in their schools. Only the Latino quarters maintain the only higher education institutions in the area [Boricua College in the Northside and in the Third Ward; and El Puente offers a "13th grade" through its Greenlight District Program], and when it comes around to development, "hipsters" and "bohemians" were instrumental in passing the 2005-rezoning that produced only luxury condominium towers and did not even realize any park space as planned and promised, setting the standard for development in North Brooklyn, whereas it was out of the Hispanic community solely that a plan for a University of civic engineering and environmental science was developed and advocated for, and it was the political shenanigans of the "hipster" community that torpedoed its consideration for development in North Brooklyn.

Inform yourself please before you continue distorting the record.
Jan. 6, 2012, 4:36 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
And, let's not forget that one of the most powerful advocates for art in Williamsburg is Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who has supported and sponsored innumerable art grants to the area. Joe Lentol's office is subsequent and far-behind such support, and no other politician from the area, or even the reps on CB1 have been as instrumental in getting government to subsidize the arts in Williamsburg--to their eventual detriment, because the bitter irony of all Williamsburg is that the guests have ejected the hosts.
Jan. 6, 2012, 4:57 pm
K says:
Dennis, Get off your high horse
Jan. 6, 2012, 7:10 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Not until I trample you under.
Jan. 6, 2012, 8:15 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
And, you did write this, no?:

"always amuses me and makes me sick at the same time when i see these groups fighting to get a practically free roof over there head and not fighting to get ahead in life on their own like the rest of us hard working people caught in the middle getting our tax dollars spent on these leaches"

I might be on a high horse, but only because I knocked you off yours.
Jan. 7, 2012, 2:11 pm
k says:
thanks for admitting it
Jan. 7, 2012, 3:52 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
[Dismissive chop of the hand]

So yea, back to the issue sans losers...
Jan. 7, 2012, 7:04 pm
Josef from Clinton Hill says:
good gracious, what a comment thread.

NYC obviously needs more housing. The City has been derelict in its efforts to promote new affordable housing, mostly backing market rate luxury condo developments and rarely forcing developers to include affordable housing.

A 50% affordable development (like this one is proposed to be) should be the standard.

With regard to the proportion of bedroom sizes, it strikes me that larger apartments would be good for everyone. As for how they are distributed, it is clear that the clustering of ethnic groups together is not ideal, and it would be better if everyone lived with everyone else instead of having little ghettos with one or another group.

I'm ambivalent as to whether race- and ethnicity-blind lotteries or strict quotas would be more fair, but I am distressed that this project is on hold. People's opinions need to be taken into account, I'm no Moses admirer, but things should be happening quicker.
Jan. 9, 2012, 12:20 pm

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