The 'Broadway Triangle' settlement could set precedence and affect future rezoning and development plans
An eight-year legal battle over racial discrimination in the proposed "Broadway Triangle" development is expected to come to an end on Monday, reports the NY Times. Community groups and the city agreed on a new plan to create more affordable housing on the site, located in the border area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Williamsburg.
The settlement includes revised plans to create 375 units of affordable housing at the controversial Broadway Triangle, a site embedded in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods with large communities of Hasidic, Hispanic and black residents. The new agreement would give preference to residents from a broader and more diverse area, and provides investment in counseling and legal representation for local residents who believe they were discriminated against.
The settlement could set precedence and affect future rezoning and development plans.
"It comes at a critical moment with all these rezonings by the de Blasio administration in low-income communities of color," said Shekar Krishnan, a lawyer with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. "This lawsuit shows that the city is required to affirmatively further fair housing and not exacerbate segregation."
The original plan, conceived under Mayor Bloomberg, called to create large apartments which was seen by the project's opponents to unfairly favor Hasidic residents with larger families. Also, the initial plan saw to make the apartments available to residents of the predominantly white Community Board 1 area, excluding residents of the adjacent Community Board 3, which has more black and Hispanic residents. For the redevelopment project, the Bloomberg administration chose two nonprofit groups, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.
Community groups opposed the plan as unfair to the majority of applicants for public housing, who need one- and two-bedroom apartments and are black and Hispanic. They also argued that the city did not attempt to protect fair housing as required by law for projects receiving federal housing funds, and disregarded the project's potential impact of reinforcing segregation.
A turning point in the Brooklyn Triangle discrimination case occurred in December 2011, when the State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman stopped the project on grounds that the "proposed developments will not only not foster integration of the neighborhood, but it will perpetuate segregation."
As part of the settlement, the city would change the development plan, but not the rezoning. The city agreed to increase the number of potential new units and include a wider array of apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms and larger, as well as to include residents of both Community Boards 1 and 3. Under the new agreement, the city would choose new developers through an open bidding process.
"This just reaffirms for us that if we don't study the racial impacts of proposed rezoning we are doomed to further segregation," said Alexandra Fennell of Churches United for Fair Housing (CUHHF), one of the plaintiffs. "I think it's a great jumping off point for us to fight more."