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Is the Developer of Rheingold Luxury Condos Avoiding Promised Affordable Housing?

A civic organization, North West Bushwick Community (NWBC), whose missions is to advocate against the displacement of Bushwick's longtime working-class residents and for accountability from developers, has requested that members of Bushwick community sign a petition pressuring the developer of Rheingold luxury condos to build promised affordable housing and to provide local jobs

Rheingold rendering. Image courtesy of ONA New York

A civic organization, North West Bushwick Community (NWBC), whose missions is to advocate against the displacement of Bushwick's longtime working-class residents and for accountability from developers, has requested that members of Bushwick community sign a petition pressuring the developer of Rheingold luxury condos to build promised affordable housing and to provide local jobs.

The enormous Rheingold site encompasses nine blocks and the current plan calls for 327 condominium units. Last year The Rabsky Group bought the Rheingold site from the former developer, Read Property Group for $53 million.

In order to obtain City Council's approval with rezoning of the site, Read negotiated with the community for several weeks. In the end Read promised in a letter to the former Council Member Diana Reyna (among other things), that 30% of the Rheingold units will be affordable and that they will provide local jobs. (NWBC tracks this and other promises of Read).

Unfortunately, these promises made by Read are not legally non-binding and were not tied to City Council's rezoning approval. However, the head organizer at Councilman Reynoso's office, Kevin Worthington told us today that without the letter memorializing the promises of Read the rezoning wouldn't have been approved.

Yesterday, DNAinfo reported that the current plans filed with the city show that Rabsky does not intend to have affordable housing in the building at 10 Monteith St.

Local officials expressed their concerns as well although Rabsky's spokesperson has assured The Read Deal that they plan on building affordable housing but didn't specify if they plan on fulfilling the full 30% of all units or how affordable the units will be.

DNAinfo further reports that Simon Dushinsky, the owner of The Rabsky Group, has come to a meeting with Councilman Reynoso's office in May but did not address the affordable housing situation at Rheingold site. Apparently, he has been avoiding the meetings with the Rheingold Construction Committee sending only a representative, which the members considered to be lacking respect.

NWBC at The Rabsky Group (image courtesy of NWBC)

"Communities who agreed to a rezoning under specific terms have little recourse to ensure the terms are met or delivered," Brigette Blood from NWBC told us today.

"Rabsky and Simon Dushinsky should do what is right and live up to the commitments that are attached to his newly purchased and newly rezoned land. The massive Rabsky development will serve as a symbol of economic inequality in our community," continued Blood.  "Affordable housing must be part of Rabsky's plan."

A spokesperson for Rabsky rejected the accusations and told The Real Deal: “After Simon Dushinsky himself met with the councilman and his staff in May and after his office met with the various steering committees in June, we are appalled by the latest accusation from the article that we have no intention of building affordable housing.

We have developed numerous projects in Brooklyn with affordable housing and have always lived up to our obligations and agreements. We have assured them that we will build affordable housing and we have every intention to do so,” the spokesperson added.

“The project is privately funded and there is no affordable requirement. However, from the get-go, we had every intention to build affordable and we are committed to that. We are in the preliminary stages of the designing the project and will meet with the community as the project advances in the coming months.”

Kevin Worthington from Reynoso's office told us that no new meetings have been arranged between from The Rabsky Group and that they are hoping they won't communicate through media only.

At The Rabsky Group (photo: NBWC)

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