FUREE, Elected Officials Want Input on Selection of New Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President

11/10/2011
Brooklyn Eagle
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A letter to the board of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership sent by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) and signed by several elected officials demands that the community have input in the hiring process for the organization’s new president.

Hand-delivered to the Partnership’s offices in MetroTech last Thursday, it is part of FUREE’s ongoing efforts to hold the quasi-public organization accountable to the community.

The development model advanced under the previous leadership of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership often appeared to prioritize maximizing investment returns for developers over maximizing community benefits like affordable housing or the creation of living-wage jobs for area residents.

Concerns expressed in the letter center around the loss of 100 local small businesses, the dramatic rise in luxury housing and high-end hotels, an emphasis on attracting large national chain stores to Downtown Brooklyn and what appears to be a priority for maximizing investment returns for developers over those for affordable housing and jobs creation.

“While there have also been definite neighborhood improvements, overall the $3.4 billion of private investment and $200 million in public investment have not resulted in the kinds of community enhancements many long-time residents and small business owners rightfully expected,” the letter states.

It proposes that the Partnership’s board include at least one community representative on the search committee for the new president and that top candidates be given the opportunity to share their vision for the neighborhood with the community before a choice is made.

“These steps could help strengthen the DBP’s relationship with neighborhood stakeholders and advance a more transparent and inclusive development model for the area,” the letter concludes.

City officials also signing the letter include State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Joseph Lentol and City Councilmember Letitia James. As Dennis Holt, a senior editor at the Brooklyn Eagle reported last month, the immediate past president of the Partnership, Joe Chan, left to take a state-level job.