626 Flatbush Avenue, which topped out at 23 stories last month, had the final lawsuit against it dismissed this Tuesday as a judge ruled that developer Hudson Companies did not lie during its environmental review process by claiming that there was no public controversy relating to the project. Though the legal definition of "public controversy" may differ from the way we understand it, it would be impossible to argue that there has not been controversy surrounding the project, as the neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens has been united in its hatred of the Marvel Architects-designed tower since the it was announced, with activists decrying the project for blocking park views, being far bigger than any of the surrounding buildings, and ushering in a seemingly inevitable wave of gentrification that would push out longtime residents. (While the tower is going to be 20 percent affordable, it's the 203 unaffordable units that have people worried.) However, as Aaron Cantu explains in an excellent longform piece on Truthout, those residents have ended up more divided than united, with anti-gentrification groups like Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP) waging war against the local Community Board 9 for being complicit in what they say are racist city planning practices.
Both sides want Prospect-Lefferts Gardens downzoned to prevent future towers like 626 Flatbush (which was built as-of-right), but while the Community Board has supported the upzoning of Empire Boulevard in exchange for other development restrictions, MTOPP demands caveat-free downzoning similar to what happened in the mostly white Prospect Park-adjacent neighborhoods of Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens. "We are the densest populated area in Brooklyn and the second most affordable," MTOPP founder Alicia Boyd told Truthout. "We don't need or want more people. We don't need the creation of affordable housing."
Cantu's piece, in addition to being by far the most comprehensive look at this controversy so far, also provides a glimpse at the dark side of the affordable housing measures put forth by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this week—that rezoning downtrodden neighborhoods to allow for more development, and more subsidized units, will only end up pushing out the people who could previously afford to live there. "As gentrification in New York comes increasingly under the guise of affordable housing," Cantu writes, "the battle lines are also becoming less pronounced, and anti-gentrification advocates don't always find themselves issuing the same calls to action." CB9 and MTOPP are both fighting the same losing battle, and in the end it may just be a question of which approach will lose the least.
· "Progressive" Gentrification: One Community's Struggle Against Affordable Housing [Truthout]
· Hudson Cos. triumphs in court battle with Prospect Lefferts residents [TRD]
· 626 Flatbush Avenue coverage [Curbed]
· Community Board 9 coverage [Curbed]
Photo by Tectonic