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October 5, 2006

Brooklyn Is Burning

New York Magazine, Letter to the Editor

Mark Jacobson’s “Brooklyn Is Burning” [September 25] is off the mark when it implies that the recent rash of arson in Brooklyn may be somehow caused by speculation surrounding Forest City Ratner Companies’ Atlantic Yards project. Jacobson belittles Forest City’s generosity toward Kassoum Fofana, whose family was left homeless by one such fire. My organization, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (build), assisted Fofana in putting his life back together after that tragic fire and asked Forest City if it might help out. It delivered Fofana’s family a refurbished apartment on the Atlantic Yards site—rent-free—and offered them the opportunity to relocate to a new unit at Atlantic Yards when it is built.

—James E. Caldwell, President of BUILD, Brooklyn


NoLandGrab: Efforts to assist the Fofana family mark one time that DDDB and BUILD found themselves on the same side. NLG'ers attended a fundraiser for the family organized by local activists Bill Batson and Raul Rothblatt. The tables were filled with Develop Don't Destroy volunteers and BUILD supporters.

Forest City Ratner's generous assistance of the Fofana family poses a question about the company's sincerity concerning blight findings in the neighborhood. Why would they move a family into a "blighted" neighborhood with high crime rates?

Possible answer: The neighborhood isn't really blighted and the high crime rates are a result of the factoring in of crime from another part of the precinct.

We were wondering the same when Rev. Daughtry sought to house Hurricane Katrina refugees in some of the buildings bought and emptied by Forest City Ratner. That effort was announced, but never happened.

Posted by lumi at October 5, 2006 6:02 AM