Bushwick residents are organizing a Town Hall style meeting Thursday night to discuss what actions they should initiate against the developers of part of the Rheingold site, the Rabsky Group, who they say has yet to make a formal commitment for affordable housing at the site.
After the meeting, activists and residents will march and protest in front of the Rheingold site, and are planning a sleepover on the sidewalk in continuation of the protest.
On a community level, developments at the site have been monitored by the Rheingold Construction Committee, a group of local advocacy groups including North West Bushwick Community Group, Los Sures, Evergreen Exchange, Churches United for Fair Housing, St. Nicks Alliance, and several others.
The group was created to ensure that developers lived up to the promises made to local residents when the redevelopment of the site was initiated.
Back in December 2013, the City Council approved the rezoning of the former Rheingold Brewery site that would allow for the developer, the Read Property Group, to build ten 70 and 80-foot towers on the site with a total of 977 units, with a 30 percent affordable housing share, up from the original 20 percent.
In August 2014, it was revealed that the Rabsky Group had purchased an undisclosed share of the 10-building Rheingold site.
And earlier this year renderings were unveiled for the construction of a 392-unit building at 10 Monteith Street, part of the Rheingold site, to be constructed by the Rabsky group, which was close on the heels of the announcement that the Read Group would start construction on a 385-unit building at 123 Melrose Street with 20 percent affordable housing, also on the Rheingold site.
However Bushwick residents are concerned that while the Read Group made a binding commitment with the City Council, the Rabsky group is not required to meet those commitments for affordable housing.
A representative for the development group made a statement to the The Real Deal last month saying it had met local elected officials and that they would go through with an affordable housing commitment.
But a statement by Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna at the groundbreaking of an affordable housing building at the Greenpoint Landing site last month once again put into question those commitments. In making a comparison between the developers at the Greenpoint Landing site and Rheingold, she said she was unsure if the city could hold the latter accountable for affordable housing.
Now Bushwick residents want to make sure they have something in writing.
Last month, some members of the Rheingold Construction Committee visited the offices of the Rabsky Group, but despite repeated requests, and a previous string of emails, and phone calls, were refused a meeting with anyone in the office, according to Bruno Daniel, a member of the committee.
Earlier the Rabsky group had a sent a representative to meet with the Committee, according to Daniel, but the representative was not authorized to make any agreements.
Apart from the affordable housing agreement, the group is also concerned about commitments for local jobs, schools, and the environmental remediation.
On Thursday at the Town Hall, the Committee will update residents on all the happenings at the site in the last few months as well their conversations or the lack thereof with the developers.
“It is remarkable, the level of disinterest they have shown us,” said Daniel about the Rabsky group. “The staff ignored us completely. Simon Dushinsky [the head of the real estate firm] is solely communicating through the press. We find that very unprofessional. He has time to talk to the Real Deal, but not us?”
Bushwick Rheingold Town Hall, Thursday, July 30, 6 p.m., 43 George Street, for information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/113882492286020/.