The Real Deal New York

Activists to Pope: Help us defeat Gary Barnett!

Coalition asks pontiff to join Friday march protesting Extell Development's Chinatown project

September 23, 2015 01:20PM

Gary Barnett Pope Francis

From left: Gary Barnett, a rendering of 250 South Street and Pope Francis

It’s Pope Francis Week in New York City. And neighborhood activists are using the opportunity to seek the pontiff’s intervention against luxury development that they say is displacing local residents.

The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side is planning a “March Against Displace” on Friday afternoon to protest new projects in the neighborhood. One such project is Extell Development’s massive luxury high-rise project at 250 South Street, which they claim threatens “working class and low-income communities of color.”

But the activists are also seeking help from a higher power, and have written an open letter to His Holiness asking for his support, according to Bowery Boogie. The letter criticizes “skyrocketing” rents and property taxes that are seeing small businesses and community services close down and families “being pushed out of their homes.”

The group also invited Pope Francis to join them Friday on their march from the Lower East Side to City Hall, adding – “Please tell our Mayor to stop financing luxury developers to push us out of the community we’ve built.”

The Pope, for his part, is shacking up at a fairly modest townhouse at 20 East 72nd Street on the Upper East Side[Bowery Boogie]Rey Mashayekhi