City Made Sly Deal With Developer, Claims Lawsuit

April 5, 2011 Updated: April 5, 2011

JUDGMENT PENDING: Attorney Harvey Epstein (L) of the Urban Justice Center speaks to his clients, a Brooklyn community coalition, in front of the State Supreme Court. He is accompanied by his colleague from the Urban Justice Center, Christina Powell.  (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)
JUDGMENT PENDING: Attorney Harvey Epstein (L) of the Urban Justice Center speaks to his clients, a Brooklyn community coalition, in front of the State Supreme Court. He is accompanied by his colleague from the Urban Justice Center, Christina Powell. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—A coalition of community groups in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are suing the city for what they say is as an unlawful deal with the TSN Development Group.

Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation (GREC) members gathered in front of the State Supreme Court on Centre Street on Tuesday. Their attorney Harvey Epstein, attended a hearing on the matter at the court that morning.

Greenpoint Hospital shut down in the 1980s. Since that time, the site has been the focus of housing and community development plans. GREC has steered its development for the past 30 years. The coalition erected six buildings including 45 affordable housing units, a community center, space for 200 homeless individuals, and more, reports Tisch Guido who has been involved from the start.

When the city issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2007 to develop the remaining portion of the site, GREC submitted its plans. Its proposal included health care facilities, and family and senior housing.

The community felt sidelined as the city chose a private developer instead.

GREC's lawsuit alleges that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) gave TSN Development Group an unfair advantage in the competitive process; they claim that the company's original proposal did not meet the RFP guidelines and that the city coached it on how to improve. GREC also alleges that the city accepted a revised proposal past the submission deadline.

Frank Lang, director of housing at St. Nicholas Housing Preservation Corporation, stands outside the State Supreme Court to tell fellow members of a Greenpoint, Brooklyn community coalition what the city had to say in a litigation trial. The coalition alleges the city had unfair dealings with a development company to work on a site in their community. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)
Frank Lang, director of housing at St. Nicholas Housing Preservation Corporation, stands outside the State Supreme Court to tell fellow members of a Greenpoint, Brooklyn community coalition what the city had to say in a litigation trial. The coalition alleges the city had unfair dealings with a development company to work on a site in their community. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)
“We believe the city has to redo this effort. We believe the city should support our community plan!” declared Epstein. According to Epstein, the HPD admitted in court to helping TSN revise its plan. HPD declined to comment on the matter, as litigation is still pending.

Frank Lang, director of housing at St. Nicholas Housing Preservation Corporation, one of the 40 organizations under the GREC umbrella, was also at the hearing. He says the city has back-pedaled on awarding the bid to TSN. HPD claimed the decision is not final, that until the land is sold, it is not a contract.

“They're trying to delay, and delay, and delay,” speculated Lang. “They are trying to not have the judge hear our case.”

For Lang, it is not just a matter of ensuring a fair bidding process—the way he sees it, HPD's decision undermines the community's sense of empowerment and self-determination.

“It's not just the proposal. It's about community control, the longevity, and the appropriateness,” says Lang. “They're [TSN] going to take their profits and they're going to invest it in their houses and their businesses in the Bronx and Queens. Everything we do is about putting it into programs in the community.”

GREC will have to wait 30 to 60 days for the judge's decision on the matter.