Photo courtesy of CUFFH
Councilman Antonio Reynoso speaks at a protest in front of the Food Bazaar on Wyckoff Avenue on July 31.

Yet another major housing development is rumored to be on the horizon for the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, and local residents and representatives are already taking action against it.

Members of the advocacy group Churches United For Fair Housing (CUFFH) organized a protest of nearly 50 people on July 31 next to the Food Bazaar supermarket on Wyckoff Avenue to draw attention to a 27-story residential tower that is alleged to be built at 452 Wyckoff Ave. — a small commercial space with three stores next to the supermarket’s parking lot.

While no permits have been filed yet for the project, CUFFH Network Director Alexandra Fennell told QNS that the developers of the building, The Mattone Group, presented their plan at a Community Board 4 Housing and Land Use Committee meeting in February.

The development is believed to have three stories of commercial space and 24 stories of residential space above that, with 115 of its 400 units slated to be affordable housing. The building can also be built as-of-right, meaning the developers won’t have to undergo a public land use review, according to a CUFFH press release.

Moreover, the supermarket would have to be closed for up to two years during construction, Fennell said, and the community relies on it heavily.

“They could file permits and break ground next week and they don’t have to tell anybody,” Fennell said. “The Food Bazaar is really a staple of the community. It provides fresh food in an area where fully accessible and large grocery stores are few and far between.”

The activists were also joined by Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Community Board 4 Chair Robert Camacho and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila and Public Advocate Letitia James.

Reynoso, who has been fighting back against affordable housing and gentrification issues since he took office in 2014, emphasized the need for the members of his community to be treated fairly by developers.

“We have to make sure we have a balance in these communities, that we are preserving the nature and character and people who helped build this, while also being inviting to new people, to new residents — we are not against that,” Reynoso said. “What we are against is getting rid of the people who have been here for 40 years. What we are showing here through this process is that we are allowing developers and big money to dictate and determine what they want to do in the community instead of allowing for the community to say what they want.”

As a longtime Bushwick resident, Camacho added that the community will not accept developments that segregate neighborhoods and drive other longtime residents out.

“Our young kids can’t grow where they were born and raised,” Camacho said. “These unscrupulous developers are doing this to our community. Latinos and Blacks are being pushed further and further away … We want to continue living in Bushwick and keep the melting pot that we had.”

The Ridgewood/Bushwick border has been a hot spot for housing developments in recent years. On the adjacent block to the south of the proposed tower, there is a brand-new 54-unit apartment building at 803 Wyckoff Ave. Eight blocks further south, developers have also filed permits for a hotel on Summerfield Street.

If the latest development comes to fruition, it would easily be the largest to date along the transit corridor that surrounds the Myrtle/Wyckoff Avenues subway station, and CUFFH referred to it as “the worst example of a middle finger building in Bushwick” in its press release. On July 1, CUFFH held a rally at 358 Grove St.  a 14-story luxury apartment building located four blocks north of the proposed Wyckoff Ave. tower — to kick off its “Take Back Bushwick” campaign. The group held a protest nearly every day in July at controversial developments in the neighborhood, concluding at Wyckoff Ave on July 31.

With the influx of new residents that such a tower could provide, it is likely to have a huge impact on local businesses. When reached over the phone on Aug. 2, Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District Director Ted Renz said that some form of higher density in or around the transit hub is okay — referred to as transit oriented development — but the amount of density needs further evaluation.

Renz added that while he was aware that the Mattone Group was looking into some kind of development, he could not comment any further until he sees what is officially proposed.

A spokesperson for The Mattone Group told QNS that the project is “too preliminary to speak about.”

QNS is awaiting more information from Community Board 4 about The Mattone Group’s February presentation.


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