A court battle that began eight years ago concerning racial segregation in a proposed Brooklyn development is expected to end on Monday.
The fight over city-owned land at a site known as the Broadway Triangle where Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick border each other started in 2009, when a lawsuit was filed arguing that local minority groups were not part of the rezoning process. The settlement would create roughly 375 affordable housing units for the site, as well as provide legal counsel for locals who maintain they have suffered from housing discrimination, according to the New York Times.
The initial plan for the Broadway Triangle called for new six- or seven-story buildings with large apartments, which opponents saw as geared toward Hasidic residents, given that they tend to have large families and cannot use elevators on the Sabbath. It also called to give preference for the apartments to residents of Community Board 1, a largely white area, rather than the neighboring Community Board 3, which is more diverse.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit said this plan largely excluded applicants who would need one- or two-bedroom apartments and that the city did not attempt to examine its impact on segregation.
The city would not change the rezoning of the area under the settlement, but the development plan would create a broader range of apartments, including studios, two-bedrooms and more. The settlement will also increase the number of sites included in the plan, allowing more housing to be built, and the city will use an open bidding process to choose new developers.
Officials previously awarded development bids to the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, two nonprofit groups.
“This just reaffirms for us that if we don’t study the racial impacts of proposed rezoning we are doomed to further segregation,” plaintiff Alexandra Fennell of Churches United for Fair Housing told the Times. “I think it’s a great jumping off point for us to fight more.” [NYT] – Eddie Small