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Advocates Demand Inclusionary Housing Provision at Broadway Triangle

By Meredith Hoffman | October 11, 2012 4:00pm | Updated on October 12, 2012 10:26am

WILLIAMSBURG — Advocates are urging the city to require anti-discimination provisions for two new buildings next to the city's controversial development in the Broadway Triangle.

The Broadway Triangle — a city-owned 21-block area on the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant — and the adjacent properties on Union Avenue and Lynch Street were rezoned to allow residential development in 2009, advocates said, who formed the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition to fight for all-inclusive affordable housing in the spot.

But the residential buildings planned for the Broadway Triangle were halted earlier this year, after a Supreme Court judge found the privately developed structures on city land unfairly favored Hasidic residents.

The planned developments would include more units for large families and would be low-rise buildings, catering to Hasidic residents who do not use elevators on the Sabbath, Supreme Court Justice Emily Goodman found, and a demographer projected that only three percent of the residents would be African-American.

Now, advocates say similar low-rise buildings are being built on private lots at 70 Union Ave. and 246 Lynch St. next to the triangle — and they worry the privately-owned buildings will attract only Hasidic residents as well.

"The city had an obligation to affirmatively prevent discrimination," said attorney Marty Needelman of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition about the 2009 rezoning of the area. 

Needelman said the city should have required the private developers to erect buildings that would extend past low-rise structures, and that the buildings should include affordable housing for a diverse mix of residents from the neighborhood.

The buildings' make-up should mirror the racial breakdown of the area within Williamsburg Community Board One, he noted.

And Juan Ramos, Chair of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, noted that if the city allowed unrestrained development in the area, non-Hasidic Williamsburg residents would be excluded from housing opportunities in the mainly Hasidic neighborhood.

"We want the city to really look at the development in this area," Ramos said.

The City's Law Department maintained that the rezoning ensured equal housing opportunities for people of all races and religions.

"The adopted rezoning was part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Broadway Triangle that provided for affordable housing to be built on city-owned land. Such housing is always offered on a non-discriminatory basis through a lottery system," said Louise Moed, a senior counsel with the agency's Administrative Law Division.

"The rezoning also provided incentives for private developers to include affordable housing when building market-rate housing," Moed continued. "Thus, the Broadway Triangle plan was structured to provide housing for a diverse population. Furthermore, there was ample opportunity for public input before the rezoning was adopted."