East New York Locals Organize to Influence Development, Rezoning Results

Homes in East New York. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

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The city approved a controversial rezoning of East New York in April — and now locals are meeting to have a say in what comes next.

A community umbrella organization, the Coalition for Community Advancement, is holding a meeting to address community concerns about the rezoning. The group hopes to keep the area affordable for current residents, push for policies that benefit East New Yorkers, and influence what gets built in the area, they said in a notice posted on EastNewYork.com.

Mayor de Blasio speaks about affordable housing at East New York’s Saint Rita’s Catholic Church in October 2016. Photo via the New York City Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor de Blasio speaks about affordable housing at East New York’s Saint Rita’s Catholic Church in October. Photo via the New York City Mayoral Photography Office

Specifically, the group wants to be sure the city delivers on its promise to spend $267 million in the area on developer subsidies and infrastructure improvements, for the purpose of bringing jobs and development to the area and creating housing affordable to very low-income residents.

They also plan to push for policies that benefit East New York residents, meet with elected representatives, and hold rallies against displacement and in favor of affordable housing, the meeting description said.

They want to influence development in the area, especially at Arlington Village, a partially empty housing complex built originally for World War II veterans, and the Blue Ridge/Chloe Foods Factory, a food processing plant that was destroyed in a huge fire in 2012.

Photo via Coalition for Community Advancement

Members of the Coalition protest tenant and homeowner harassment. Photo via Coalition for Community Advancement

The Coalition for Community Advancement was founded in 2015 to give locals a voice in the rezoning. Through their advocacy and working with local pols, they successfully advocated for major changes to the rezoning and helped open a jobs center, WorkForce1 Center, at 2619 Atlantic Avenue in East New York in December.

Members comprise a variety of local civic organizations and residents, including homeowners, renters, small businesses, churches, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Highland Park Community Development Corporation, East New York Farms and North Brooklyn YMCA.

The group states on their Facebook page that their goals include housing that is affordable for current residents, the creation of neighborhood resources such as schools and public green space, and the guarantee that the people of East New York will have a say in how the rezoning shapes the area. One of its members is Julia Watt-Rosenfeld, Director of Community Organizing and Advocacy at the Cypress Hills Development Corporation.

East New York Brooklyn

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church at 400 Glenmore Avenue. Photo by Zulmilena Then

“The rezoning presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the neighborhood,” the group said on its Facebook page in the months leading up to the decisive City Council vote. By coming together, locals can ensure city officials follow through on promises and make sure new housing is “actually affordable” to locals, they said.

The fight to get the rezone passed was not without many vocal critics, and the community meeting will offer another chance for East New Yorkers to speak their minds on the issue.

Another concern of residents centers on the preservation of architecturally and culturally significant buildings in the area. There is a movement to landmark some of the older, grander buildings and redevelop rather than demolish them.

The community meeting will take place Tuesday, January 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at United Community Centers at 613 New Lots Avenue. For more information on the meeting, click here.

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