The racial politics of development are boiling over once again in Brooklyn, as charges of anti-Semitism are being lobbed at the opponents of a controversial Williamsburg apartment project.
The Rabsky Group plans to build 1,146 apartments – 25 percent of which will be affordable – as well as retail space on a site formally occupied by the drug giant Pfizer in Williamsburg Known As The Broadway Triangle.
Hispanic and black residents of the area worry that Rabsky will market the development’s 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 back in 2012.
Now a group, known as The Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, has written to land use chair David Greenfield demanding that he recuse himself from considering the project because he’s set to leave office and take over the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, according to the New York Daily News. However, the request was met by Greenfield with accusations of anti-Semitism.
“Your behavior thus far is both professionally irresponsible and reckless, and has compromised your participation as an elected representative in this legislative process. The conflicts of interest raised by your involvement in the present Council action are numerous and unwaivable,” coalition chair Juan Ramos wrote to Greenfield.
Greenfield says that he is being targeted specifically because he is Jewish.
“The letter is part of a clear and calculated campaign of intimidation and continued misinformation by the opponents of this private application,” Greenfield said, further claiming that group leaders have a history of “anti-Semitic remarks” that “calls into question the true motivation of this group.”
A spokesperson for Rabsky also alleged anti-Semitism on the part of critics, saying they have “waged an increasingly shameful campaign of anti-Semitic personal attacks, suggesting a Jewish developer can only be trusted to build affordable housing for Jewish people even though affordable units are awarded through a city-run lottery.” [NYDN] – Christopher Cameron