It rained in several short but intense intervals yesterday. The air was muggy with temperature hanging around 90 during the entire day. Foreheads of several people were covered in a gloss of sweat as they climbed the stairs to the Cathedral of Joy at 43 George Street for Town Hall Meeting about the community action regarding the reluctance of the developers to include promised affordable housing at Rheingold luxury condos. About 200 of Bushwick residents were already sitting in a dimly lit large room, which usually serves as a house of worship.
“All we’re asking is for Rabsky to deliver on the commitments made to the community,” two men from Churches United for Fair Housing said first in English and then in Spanish. The lively crowd responded with a chant and a cheer. “The rezoning would have not been allowed without these benefits, and we cannot allow the construction without them,” the men continued and more hum and noise followed in agreement. “Without affordable housing many of will be displaced.”
Men and women, both young and old; hispanic, black and white, all murmured and clapped emotionally, ready for action — just tell them what the action is.
Bushwick neighbors came to yesterday’s town hall meeting to hear about the progress at the Rheingold site and to discuss the community action.
Last year, Read Property Developers requested the rezoning to build residential housing project on the the former Rheingold Brewery site. The developers were granted the city’s approval only after they promised in a letter addressed to former Council Member Diana Reyna that 30% of the Rheingold units will be affordable and that they will provide local jobs.
Read then sold part of the development to Rabsky Group who seem rather reluctant to acknowledge the promises they inherited from their predecessor. They avoided communication with the officials, and even filed the plans with the city that don’t show any intent to include affordable housing at 10 Monteith St.
The main problem right now is that the promises made in the letter to Ms Reyna are not legally binding.
“The developers usually follow through on the agreements made to the community because they want to be able to build more and their reputation is on the line,” Council Member Antonio Reynoso told us. “In this case, we’re talking about the lack of communication. They were not respecting our community,” Mr Reynoso continued. “Rabsky think that they are different but they don’t know Bushwick community!”
Men and women then peacefully marched from the Cathedral of Joy to the Rheingold site accompanied by two police officers from 84th Precinct Community Affairs while chanting about the strength of united community. And they were right.
As the rally stopped at the Rheingold site, Mr Reynoso presented the community with the first written letter Rabsky Group addressed to the community. “They will meet with us,” he said in the microphone. “And that’s all because they know we’re here!”
The men and women encouraged by the success of their involvement mingled and discussed the future of Bushwick. Passersby were asking what the rally is about, joining the cheers and chants.
Last night truly felt like the Bushwick community was united and this unity is capable of making a difference with respect to the common goal–fair housing in Bushwick.
The thanks belongs to the Rheingold Construction Committee (it consists of Churches United for Fair Housing, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Southside United HDFC/Los Sures, Evergreen, North West Bushwick Community Group, Catholic Migration Services), which has been relentlessly monitoring the development at the Rheingold site and keeping the community informed and activated, as well as NYC Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and Kyle Bragg, Secretary Treasurer 32 BJ SEIU.