Subtitled: In NYC, you must never appear less liberal than your neighbor, lest you get painfully skewered.
Looks like the plan to build apartments and a recreation center at the Bedford Union Armory has hit yet another setback. Have you been following this story? If not, read on, it's a doozy. I'll try to condense...
We're talking about the big beautiful old Armory at Bedford Ave and Union. It was owned by the State, who sold it back to the City. Great! Now the City can make the "best use" of the building and land. The City, as represented by the NYC Economic Development Corp, put the project out to bid. They wanted a mixed-use sitch. You know, market rate apartments, affordable apartments, and a big old recreation center. God knows there's room for it. Lotsa politicians wanted and want a piece of THIS prize.
The winning developer, Slate, recently landed in a bunch of corruptive hot water over another project needing City support. They dropped out of the BUA as a result. (Let's use BUA since it's shorter and sounding it out is kinda phun - I'm going for bew-ah). Now the developer to whom Slate sold its half of the rights - BFC - lost its star endorser and backer, the Knicks b-ball star Carmelo Anthony. Why? Because he was scolded by a woman named Bertha Lewis and a remarkably powerful ragtag collection of activists. So Anthony pulled out having been chastised for turning his back on the "real" black community. Lewis claimed in a letter that Anthony was being used to create unaffordable affordable housing and a rec center that the current residents would not be able to use (read "afford.)
Why do these shaming tactics ring oddly familiar to the Q's ears? (see a dozen or so previous Q entries over the past two years for the answer).
Bertha Lewis was the CEO of ACORN in NYC. You know ACORN, the group that was targeted by conservatives through a counter-insurgency by right-wingers and FOX news, then Republicans in Congress. A video surfaced, ACORN got buried as if by a mob of busy squirrels, and largely de-funded. And yet, there was no stopping Bertha and her devotees. She and key supporters became The Black Institute here in NYC. You'll also see the group NY Communities for Change involved in this and other efforts to block "affordable housing" initiatives that the groups consider Gentrification Enablers (my term). The thinking here - open for debate - is that by developing new market rate apartments and amenities, even with affordable components, you are forcing out longterm residents of color. I say "open for debate" because the question remains - if you don't build new housing, for ALL income strata, how exactly do you ever get runaway prices in check? This is not a purely Liberal vs Conservative argument. This is about economics, and sadly, where economics are concerned not everyone reads the numbers the same way.
Back to the Playbill. When Alicia Boyd and MTOPP needed folks to create the impression that there was a huge outcry about your Community Board 9 and its efforts to engage in a collaborative process with the Dept of City Planning - she got a lot of folks to come out to meetings from followers of both formerly-ACORN affiliated groups - NYCCFC and TBI. That's why many of the people shouting down your neighbors at these meetings seem to not be from the neighborhood. They aren't. They are part of a larger, sometime fractious but always rebellious movement to stop business as usual. And business as usual in NYC is about real estate.
Alicia has effectively shut down CB9. Bertha has effectively shut down the BUA project, both at least for now.
The pushback against gentrification - guided or misguided as you think it may be - has jumped into warp drive. To the point where politicians - black politicians especially - must now choose sides. Are you for those racist "Greedy Developers"? Are are you with US?
An economic "Sophie's Choice" perhaps. Walter Mosley, Diana Richardson, Laurie Cumbo, Eric Adams et al...there's an enormous Pink and Black Elephant in the room right now. And it ain't going nowhere. So whatcha gonna do?
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.