Let Two of the Crown Heights Developments Move Forward

For Democratic Party Assembly District leader Geoffrey Davis the construction of the planned developments at 931 Carroll Street and 40 Crown Street is a no brainer.

“The project includes 250 real affordable apartments coming to the community and I don’t see why it’s not moving forward,” said Davis. “There’s a homeless shelter one block down on Crown Street and Rogers Avenue where families need a place to stay and this would be a great opportunity for them to have permanent affordable housing.

Davis’ words come as Kings County Supreme Court Judge Reginald Boddie is set to rule again this week over a temporary restraining order (TRO) he put in place that has halted work on the property, which consists of two 16-story buildings. 

The TRO came after a group of activists took the project to court, charging its developers and a host of local lawmakers and Community Board 9 that the project didn’t do a shadow study in its arduous two-year rezoning process.

This story may sound familiar for the neighborhood, but it shouldn’t be confused with the former Spice Factory project, which calls for six-buildings some as high as 37-stories just blocks away on Franklin Avenue between Sullivan and Montgomery Streets. In that project, these same obstructionist activists, along with Brooklyn Botanical Garden leaders have already taken a stance against for the shadows it will cast over the garden.

But the Carroll Street project is smaller and nearly two blocks away from the Botanic Garden – past both apartment buildings, a public school and a trash-strewn MTA ditch on which the Prospect Park Shutte train runs. The Brooklyn-based Cornell Realty Management Company negotiated long and hard with Davis, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) and several grassroots organizations to have more affordability in the complex.

What many fail to realize that at the same time the TRO is in place, people with jobs on the project are losing out on paychecks, let alone a chance for affordable housing.

But the opponents hardly seem to care about distinguishing between projects. To them, any large project is bad even if it does help the local economy and create much-needed affordable housing. 

Many of these obstructionists are quick to utilize and play the anti-semitic card as the developers of both projects involve Hassidic Jews. The irony is they fail to realize that in Crown Heights just blocks away from these developments is a sizable Hassidic Jewish population and many are living in poverty and need the affordable housing this project gives as well.

“I am in favor of this project because it will create more affordable housing at large in the neighborhood,” said Chanina Sperlin, a longtime member of Community Board 9 and executive vice president of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. 

“The Jewish community of Crown Heights has a great need for more affordable housing as does the American black, Haitian and Caribbean communities that all live in the neighborhood,” he added.

The anti-development crowd in Brooklyn, of which there are many, often lump together all for-profit developments as bad. They should reexamine their thinking on 931 Caroll Street and 40 Crown Street, and not let the great get in the way of the good.

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