Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is pushing for changes to a proposed apartment development on a plot of land in South Williamsburg formerly owned by Pfizer, asking the City Council to reject zoning alterations on the land without more affordable housing in the planned apartment buildings.
After protesters shut down a hearing on the Pfizer and Bedford Armory projects hosted by the borough president at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Adams sent his recommendations on the future of the land to the City Council.
Adams recommended that the city refuse the rezoning unless certain changes were made by the project's developer, the Rabsky Group. Specifically, Adams called for approval of the project to "be conditional upon a special permit affordable housing bonus or other legal mechanism that commits an additional 21,300 square feet of affordable housing at an average rent based on 60 percent area median income."
Adams also wants Rabsky to agree in writing to building what he called an "appropriate" number of two, three, and four-bedroom apartments in order to provide enough units for rent-burdened households which according to his recommendation "are more likely to require family-sized unit types."
The Pfzer development as it currently stands would come with 1,146 apartments and 25 percent of them set aside as affordable.
Activists opposed to development at the Broadway Triangle have long-contended that each proposed rezoning of the land has favored the area's Orthodox Jewish population over the neighborhood's black and Latino populations. The Rabsky Group itself is no stranger to controversy, first after refusing to disclose how much affordable housing they would include in their Rheingold brewery development project and then insisting on making only 20 percent of the units affordable.
Adams also wrote that he wants to see changes to the city's housing lottery that would allow rent-burdened families to more easily qualify for the affordable units that get offered up by the city, by modifying the rules regarding "the strict rent-to-income requirement of not exceeding 30 percent of income for yearly rent payment." The BP claims that the current rules too often disqualify poor families who are already spending well over 30 percent of their yearly income on rent.
Churches United For Fair Housing, an activist group opposed to the rezoning plan, praised Adams's decision to reject it in its current form. "This proposed plan should be rejected at every step of the ULURP process. It will continue the trend of exclusionary housing development in the most segregated neighborhood in our city. This plan is anti-Black and anti-Latino and we are appalled that this project is still even being considered."
The City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting on July 26th in order to consider approving the development.