Greenpoint Gazette

Broadway Triangle, Still Up in the Air

BY Juliet Linderman

One of the most contested pieces of public land in New York City is, as most North Brooklyn residents know, the Broadway Triangle, and it looks as if it may be getting even more complicated—or maybe not. Judge Emily Goodman, who is hearing the lawsuit filed against the city of New York and the Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) by the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, a conglomerate representing more than 40 groups, ruled last week to indefinitely postpone the hearing on a looming preliminary injunction.
The judge decided to extend a stay she granted in late 2009, shortly after the 31-acre development project was approved by City Council, due to pending investigations into Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, one of the two non-profit groups given site control over the Broadway Triangle. Earlier this month, Governor David Paterson announced that he is halting $25 million in state funding for RBSCC “existing and pending contracts.” In addition, there are currently two federal investigations into the non-profit and its proprietor Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
The lawyers representing the city asked to continue with the lawsuit and the hearing rather than extend the current stay because of $2 million in tax credits that needed to be used by October 1. Now that the deadline is past, it is unclear whether these funds will still be available once the project gets underway—if it ever does.
It is also unclear as to when the stay will be lifted and the official hearing will take place, and the judge ruled that it is impractical to proceed due to a funding freeze that would undoubtedly impact the feasibility of breaking ground on the Broadway Triangle project.
“The stay must remain in effect pending the preliminary injunction hearing. If there’s no rush, there’s no rush, but we urge the city to go back and do the right thing: re-do the process and come up with a mutually agreed to community plan that is inclusive, open, transparent,” said Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A attorney Marty Needelman, who is representing BTCC in court.
Needelman and BTCC attest that the Broadway Triangle redevelopment plans—set to include 1,895 units of affordable housing in a series of low-rise towers—and the vetting process that informed the plans were exclusionary, and riddled with discriminatory undertones. Shortly after the plans were swiftly approved by the Planning Commission followed by the City Council, the BTCC sued the mayor, the city and HPD, alleging that the Broadway Triangle was given to RBSCC and allied non-profit group United Jewish Organizations (UJO) even before a Request for Proposals was issued. Additionally, the lawsuit wagers that the preliminary planning meetings were exclusive, and that the overall structure of the affordable housing complexes—low-density with a disproportionate number of multiple-room dwellings—are designed specifically for Hasidic families, and neglect the needs of black and Hispanic area residents.
“If there’s no rush, we should certainly go back and redo it because there’s nothing on the table right now,” Needelman said. “There is every reason to go back and re-plan it in conjunction with these 40 groups.”

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