The Real Deal New York

Protesters demand East New York politician return donations from RE interests

Bluestone Group, which wants to redevelop Arlington Village, donated $1K to Rafael Espinal
April 08, 2016 06:00PM


From left: Rafael Espinal and Atlantic Avenue in East New York

City Council member Rafael Espinal is feeling the heat from some of his constituents ahead of the City Council’s expected vote on the East New York rezoning plan this month.

Protesters rallied outside Espinal’s office Thursday, armed with $100 bills depicting his face, and demanded he give back donations from real estate interests.

For this year’s campaign season, landowners, real estate lawyers and developers donated around $7,000, according to New York City Campaign Finance Board data, DNAinfo reported.

Bluestone Group, which is looking to redevelop a two-story, 210-unit complex called Arlington Village, donated $1,000, DNAinfo reported. A group of investors led by Eli Tabak of the Bluestone Group acquired the complex for $30 million in March 2015, and are looking to redevelop it as affordable housing, The Real Deal reported.

“Developers have no influence on my negotiations surrounding the rezoning — the only people influencing me are those who live in the community today — my neighbors, small business owners, and local community groups,” said Espinal.

East New York is the first of 15 neighborhoods that would be rezoned under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. The rezoning is expected to generate 6,492 new apartments and 1.3 million square feet of retail, office space and community facilities in the 190-block area of East New York, Cypress Hill and Ocean Hill neighborhoods.

Last month, New York Communities for Change, a union-backed group that says it represents around 1,000 East New York residents, was pressuring Espinal to push for buildings constructed under the rezoning on Atlantic Avenue and Pitkin Avenue to be 50 percent affordable for low-income tenants, Crain’s reported.

According to an analysis by City Comptroller Scott Stringer last year, affordable housing units created under the rezoning would be unaffordable for 55 percent of East New York’s residents. [DNAinfo]Dusica Sue Malesevic