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Chassidishe Williamsburg Extends Its Domain

Friday March 13, 2009 10:48 AM - Leave a Comment

williamsburg1With explosive chassidishe population growth in Williamsburg, the problem of affordable housing takes priority in all community planning issues. In recent years, a number of instances have occurred where developers have exploited opportunities by building luxury condominiums in specific areas that had their zoning changed from industrial to residential by community efforts to make way for low-cost and affordable housing.

This is a critical threat since Chassidishe Williamsburg adjoins neighborhoods that have been and continue to become gentrified. Somewhat similar to block-busting, greedy individuals and groups seek to acquire properties at present reasonable prices, tear down existing structures, build high priced luxury buildings, and profit outrageously. This destabilizes the neighborhood fabric by squeezing out long-time residents who are in low and middle income ranges, as well as fracture existing and budding chassidishe enclaves.

 Internally, chassidishe groups have tightened their organizational dealings so as to limit the opportunity for aberration. The full weight of social acceptability is being used to persuade potential violators to abide by the community’s short-and-long-term planning guidelines. In one particular instance, members of a real estate group that built an exploitative luxury condominium planned to build a shul in an adjoining lot, hoping to defuse anger and resentment. However, the rabbis of Williamsburg refused to give sanction to the building of that shul. At a then meeting in the home of Rabbi Asher Anshel Katz, Vienner Rav, specific areas were identified as targets and publicized.

A proclamation to this effect had been released in June 2004, signed by Williamsburg’s leading rabbonim: Rabbi Chanania Avrohom Leitner, Montevideo Rav (zt”l); Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Menashe Friedman, Satmar Rosh Beth Din; Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel Greenwald, Pupa Rav; Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe; Rabbi Asher Anshel Katz, Vienner Rav; Rabbi Yosef Moshe Greenwald, Tzelemer Rav; Rabbi Yitzchok Yochanon Hager, Williamsburg Vishnitzer Rav; Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, Kiviashder Rav; Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Meisles, Shoproner  Rav; Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Weinberger, Satmar Dayan; Rabbi  Zalman Leib Fulop, Satmar Dayan; Rabbi Zvi Yesochor Katz,  Williamsburg Dushinsky Rav, Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Menachem  Eichenstein, Galante Rebbe;  Rabbi Aaron Greenwald, Pupa Dayan; Rabbi Aaron Silberstein,  Tzelemer Dayan; Rabbi Mayer Tudros Silber; Rabbi  Meshulem Dov Polatchek, Hisachdus Dayan; and Rabbi Yisroel Dovid  Harfenes, Yisroel Vehazmanim shul in Williamsburg.

In order to set very specific guidelines to solidify the work of the community in achieving new low-cost and affordable building starts, a detailed map has been formulated designating areas wherein no apartment or house may be sold to parties seeking to exploit community efforts, as well as areas wherein no apartment or house may be rented or sold to potential exploiters.

 Areas between Broadway, Rodney Street, Borinquen Place, and Union Avenue, and the area of Broadway, Boerum Street, and Leonard Street have been tagged as areas wherein rentals are permitted, however sales to potential exploiters are proscribed. Apartments and homes within the area bordered by Broadway and Flushing Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, DeKalb Avenue, Classon Avenue, Kent Avenue, East River, and the Williamsburg Bridge, have been pronounced as a no-rent no-sale area to potential exploitation.

 In an update just released, community borderlines have been expanded. The rabbinical oversight committee presently consists of Rabbi Zalman Leib Fulop, Rabbi Boruch Noson Halberstam, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Harfenes, and Rabbi Moshe Menachem Weiss. The area within Rodney Street, South 4th Street, South 5th Street, and Union Avenue have been upgraded to a no-rent no-sale status.

Properties within no-rent no-sale areas should be either rented or sold only to members of the community. However, if finding a customer from within the community is unsuccessful, the property may be leased on a short-term basis to non-community members.

The rabbinical oversight committee invites inquiries at 718-927-1089 and will work with any builder, developer or owner. Should anyone have any complaints against a builder, developer or owner, a call to the committee is encouraged.

{Rabbi G. Tannenbaum-Machberes/Matzav.com Newscenter} 

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