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In Battle Between Community & Developer, Greenfield Sides With Community

Who says you can’t fight City Hall? A group of woman living on 48th Street in Boro Park set out to do just that. Last year, a wealthy real estate developer decided to convert a home on the corner of 48th Street and 18th Avenue from residential to commercial use. While this stretch of 18th Avenue is residential, the developer was rumoured to have designs to turn it into a store at first and then a drug rehab clinic and finally a bank. This led to two dozen housewives on this block forming a coalition to stop their block from becoming commercial. Said one “we are all hard working families, and when we come home from a long day at work we look forward to relaxing in a quiet home.”

Well, it’s not an easy battle. In fact, if recent history is any guide virtually all of these applications are approved. Well these woman, many with several children at home, were not deterred. They attended over ten meetings to try and stop a home on their block from being ripped down and turned into a commercial development.

They found an unexpected ally in Councilman David Greenfield. “I first found out about this project at the Community Board,” said Greenfield. “I was amazed that someone would want to turn a quiet residential block into a commercial area.” Greenfield,a member of the community board at the time, encouraged his fellow board members to vote against the project and they did – unanimously.

Despite this setback, the developer forged ahead with his plans to change the zoning of this property. The developer proceeded to City Planning who chose to ignore the recommendations of the community board, which are advisory in nature, and approved the plans.

Happily for the residents of 48th street, the story doesn’t end there. The local city councilman has a recommendation in all land use matter in his district. In fact, all rezonings must be approved by the full City Council. Boruch Hashem, Councilman Greenfield was elected and is keeping his commitment to the residents of 48th Street. “I know that Councilman Greenfield is under an enormous amount of pressure from the wealthy developer and his allies to support the project,” said a resident of the block. “Too often politicians say one thing and do another. We are truly grateful that Councilman Greenfield is a man of his word.”

For Councilman Greenfield it was an easy decision, “Developers need to know that while I am supportive of developments, the needs of the community will always come first,” Greenfield explained. “To place a commercial development on a residential block is odd to say the least. The fact that the neighbors all opposed it made it all the more unacceptable.”

Councilman Greenfield formally asked his colleagues at the New York City Council land use meeting today to stop this development. The project will be voted on by the full Council by the end of the month. We’ll keep you updated on how this story ultimately ends. But for now, two dozen women are proving that with a little perseverance and an ally in the City Council, you can fight City Hall.

(Yaakov Schwartz – Exclusively  for YWN)

16 Responses

  1. I was there last week and saw that the corner of 48th and 18th had a store Appetizing Plus on the corner. Is this about the same street?

  2. As a resident of 49th street, I have followed this story for weeks. There’s no question that 48th street is a beautiful block and they really are threatened by this new development. Why can’t people leave a nice place alone for a change? Why should one man profit on the backs of some many who will suffer. No one needs another bank or whatever they would build. No one needs all the new parking meters that come when a building is rezoned for commercial use. It’s a crime and Mr. Greenfield was the first politician to back up his promises to help. He didn’t pretend to be concerned. He was concerned and he got down and dirty and did something about it.
    I have nothing but admiration for Mr. Greenfield and wish he could have been around when my parent’s block was being rezoned. The residents fought it tooth and nail but the money won out in the end. Today, it’s one of the worst places in Boro Park to live.

  3. 18th ave and 48th street is not a quiet residential block as they would have you believe. 18th Ave is a commercial block, and the building in question is adjacent to the commercial zone. There is no reason this project should not have been approved.
    18th Ave has long suffered as a commercial corridor and this would have been a financial boom to the stores in the area. Unfortunately Greenfeld chose the side of a few housewives and ignored the plight of those on the commercial strip seeking investments in the area. Commercial strips pay significantly higher taxes, and they are hurting. Greenfeld should look at the larger good of the community and not at the few women.

  4. Thank G-D Greenfield won. (Unfortunately I did not vote for him, as our misguided “community leaders” told their subjects to vote for Joe)

  5. #3, 18th Avenue is not residential, true. But 48th Street is. And that’s the block that the greedy housewives who wanted residential quiet on their block for their families fought over.

  6. 18th avenue is about fifty percent residential – much more so than most other commercial streets like 16th and 13th avenues. 48th street is entirely residential and its a beautiful block where kids are outside playing all afternoon. Anyone who thinks this would be a boon to the local stores is nuts. They’re doing fine and don’t need the added congestion of a bank.
    If the developer has his way, this block will go the way of all the other blocks in Boro Park that have no parking and are backed up and impossible to live on. If I would live on that street, i’d have attended every meeting and done everything possible to stop the development.

  7. great job we dont need any more banks in boro park , can we find out who the developer is , i am sure that he is looking to get one of those big banks that are open on shabbos , where will my kids go to play , i will be afraid to let them cross to the park if we will have a lot of cars comming to our street to park

    sorry mr. greenfield for not voting for you , but you will have my vote next time thank you for all the good work

  8. The important thing is that David is in the news again. Never seen anything like it. I guess BP has a lot of problems that need fixing.

  9. Quiet on 18th & 48th?
    Who do these women think their fooling? I don’t think it’s EVER quiet at that intersection.

  10. Lets set the record straight:
    Day one this project was designed for a bank and not the rumors a few ladies for their personal interest spread.
    Lots of people on the block (including myself) had no problem supporting this so called development by a Heimesher yid that lives around the corner of the property for lots of years. We were terrorized by a 3 older people from the block that cause lots of trouble on the block not to support or sign letters in favor of the rezoning.

    A few facts about the owner of the property:
    He lives and davens in the community
    He owns other properties in the Boro Park
    He is not a slumlord
    He is a big baal tzedakah

    What a shame that a few ladies for their self interest decided to cause such money damage to another yid for no reason at all.

    They will have a lot of answering to do on Rosh Hashonah.

  11. For all of you taking about residential/commercial:
    Every house on 48 Street has a drive way.
    48 Street is a main artery to Flatbush.
    18 Avenue and 48 Street is commercial.
    There is a public school on 18 Avenue and 48 to 47 Street.
    According to the plans the bank enterance would be on 18 Avenue.
    There wouldn’t be any use of the building on 48 Street.

    So now all of you tell me is 48 Street a quite street?
    I think we should stop Hatzolah from using our street when they have to get into Flatbush from the hospital (sac).

    This so called development wouldn’t hurt a fly on our block and just because 3 greedy people someone lost today a lot of money for no good reason.

  12. Just to make a few things clear:
    This property is NOT on 48th street as noted on the above; it is located on 18th ave. CORNER 48th Street.
    The Owner / Developer for this project whom I personally know for many years is not a “wealthy real estate developer”,
    He’s known as a humble man who continuously supports MANY community Yeshivos, that lives around the corner for the past THIRTY SEVEN years.
    All of his children are Bnei Torah as well.
    To be Motzei Shem Rah that this man is a slumlord or that he’s planning to build a DRUG REHABILITATION center is TOTALLY another tactic for those few ladies to frighten off their clueless neighbors.
    And for MR. Greenfield:
    For you, as a newly elected official, to get up in public and say “I was amazed that someone would want to turn a quiet residential block into a commercial area” truly amazes me, fact on the ground show otherwise. I Challenge you to show me EVEN ONE type of store that is not located on the ave., and to start your new carrier with GROUNDLESS and FALSE statements like this just to appease a few envious neighbors is improper and very unsatisfactory on you’re part.
    With that you’ve lost me, and many of his friends.

    A Friend,
    Yehuda G.

  13. It makes zero difference whether the developer’s sons are Bnei Torah or gang members. It makes no difference whether he’s a Baki in Shas or a slumlord. The only point of discussion is whether the residents of 48th are obligated to surrender the few parking spots left on their block so that someone can make more money. That’s it.
    The developer did not need to lose money – he chose to. The residents found him TWO buyers who would refund his initial investment [something he claimed he would accept] only to be laughed at by him when the offers were made.
    This is not about a “few housewives.” More than forty residents of 48th street showed up at the first meeting where a vote was held by the community board and then another 35 showed up at the next vote of the senior council. Both times, the community board voted UNANIMOUSLY to deny the zoning change.
    Unlike some of the commenters, they actually studied the issue in depth and concluded that residents would suffer a lot of harm if this would go through.
    So far, the developer has managed to amass many signatures in his favor, but only from surrounding blocks that won’t be harmed. No one from 48th street signed except a few souls that are scared of him.
    When there was a hearing in downtown Brooklyn, another ten residents showed – men and women.
    This is not about a few housewives. This is an issue affecting an entire block of people who are very upset and have given a lot of time to fighting this encroachment. There’s no reason that every last block in Boro Park has to become unlivable. If I lived on 48th st. I would also protest it like you cannot imagine. I would attend every hearing and make my voice known. It’s despicable to see what one person looking to make more money can do to harm hundreds of innocent people.

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