Sprawling Brooklyn Development Site Becomes A Battleground

Sprawling Brooklyn Development Site Becomes A Battleground

It was not that long ago that the idea of gentrifying Brooklyn would seem almost impossible. However, when Brooklyn started its re-emergence in the late 1970s, it put into action plans that brought in new businesses and have spurred new construction.

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn development boom has left out those in need of affordable housing, and now neighborhood activists are stepping in to try and make sure that one redevelopment site lives up to its previous promises.

Sprawling Brooklyn Development Site Becomes A Battleground

The Battle Of Rhinegold Brewery Development

When the former site of the Rhinegold brewery was purchased by Read Development, it was zoned as a commercial space. In 2013, Read Development requested that the area be rezoned to allow for housing development. The plan was to create a five-block area that was filled with the latest in housing technology, including a huge green roof that had sprawling walkways and large trees.

In exchange for allowing the site to be used for housing, the City Council requested that 30 percent of the new units be set aside for affordable housing. Read Development begrudgingly agreed, and the council re-zoned the area for housing. All seemed to go well, until Read Development decided to sell part of the property to the Rabsky Group.

When Is 30 Percent Not 30 Percent

The Read Group donated part of the land at the Rhinegold brewery to local community groups to build affordable senior housing. Then Read split the property in half and sold one half to the Rabsky Group. New zoning laws make it mandatory for the Rabsky Group to set aside 20 percent of the 977 new apartments it plans on building for affordable housing. This means that the rent for those units must be no more than $1,100 per month. Rabsky intends to honor the zoning laws, but that does not make residents happy.

Community activists are demanding that Rabsky stick with the original promise of 30 percent affordable housing in the new facility, but Rabsky is balking. The reason that Rabsky gives for cutting the affordable housing ratio from 30 to 20 percent is that the 88 affordable senior housing units make up the difference between his 20 percent and the full affordable housing requirements. Since those senior units were set aside as part of a different deal with the community, the activists are crying foul.

The Battle Begins

Much of the new development throughout New York City has been high-income housing, which has created a growing and almost critical need for affordable housing in growing boroughs like Brooklyn. Community activists have
been monitoring new Brooklyn development closely, and they are demanding that the Rabsky Group honor the commitment from the previous developer that led to the rezoning to be approved in the first place.

For its part, the Rabsky Group insists that their own 20 percent number combined with the 88 affordable senior housing units found on the other part of the property satisfy their affordable housing requirement. The residents are not convinced, and the council member who has taken over the issue is also demanding that Rabsky honor the previous promise.

Difficulty In Securing An Agreement

Since the promise of 30 percent affordable housing was a handshake agreement, it would be difficult for the residents to find satisfaction in a court of law. The hope among residents is that Rabsky will honor the agreement and live up to the conditions that caused the area to be rezoned in the first place.

As of now, it looks like the Rabsky Group feels that it is living up to its responsibility and the developer is not prepared to move from that stance in the near future.

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