Ethnic tensions flare up over Rabsky’s plans for the Pfizer site

Hispanic residents worry units will be rented only to Hasidic Jews

TRD New York /
Oct.October 10, 2017 09:10 AM

Rabsky’s plans for the site, Council Member Stephen Levin and Council Member Antonio Reynoso (Credit: Rabsky Group)

UPDATED, Oct. 10, 10:22 a.m.: The dispute over the Rabsky Group’s Pfizer development site in Williamsburg is turning into an ethnic conflict, pitting Hispanic and African-American residents against their Hasidic Jewish neighbors.

“There will be a contingent that will be against this project and they will exclusively be people of color,” said council member Antonio Reynoso, who represents a district neighboring the project.

Hispanic residents of Williamsburg’s Broadway triangle worry that Rabsky will market the development’s 1,146 planned units only to Hasidic families and build mostly large apartments. Critics sued to block construction on city-owned land in the neighborhood, alleging discrimination, and won a court order halting construction in The Broadway triangle 2012.

Council member Steve Levin, who represents the district the building is in, dismissed the concerns. “People really truly need affordable housing in both communities … both the Jewish community and the Latino community in Williamsburg. These are long-standing communities,” he told Politico. “They’re both feeling the squeeze from an influx of hipsters or Yuppies or people like myself who moved to Williamsburg in the last 20 years and have driven rent up both on the Latino side of Broadway and the Hasidic side of Broadway.”

Rabsky said the building’s 287 below-market units will be split evenly between one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.

Last month, the City Planning Commission signed off on a rezoning of the site. It still has to pass City Council, and Raynoso promised to put up a fight. [Politico] Konrad Putzier 

Correction: an earlier version of this post mischaracterized the 2012 lawsuit.

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