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Albee shopowners vow to fight

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Albee Square Mall shop owners and community activists vowed to fight a plan to demolish the mall and create a residential and commercial high-rise.

Chanting “No peace without justice,” about 40 people testified during a Department of Housing Preservation and Development hearing last Friday in Manhattan.

Mitch Rose, owner of Katrina’s Diary lingerie shop, said tearing down the shopping center would ruin him financially.

“I put all of my life’s savings into that mall,” Rose said, holding up a pair of women’s underwear at the hearing.

The city, which owns the land, is considering a lease that requires developers to knock down Albee Square and replace it with a 1.38-million-square foot tower filled with offices, retail stores and residential units.

The proposal calls for the new owners of the property to rent the land for $20 million spread out over 50 years or buy the land outright for the same amount.

Beverly Corbin, chairwoman of Will­ough­by Street–based Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, thinks the land is worth far more than $20 million — about six times that, in fact, she said.

“This insultingly low cost doesn’t even represent what the lease interest for the site was valued at six years ago,” said Samantha Imperatrice at the Friday hearing.

Imperatrice said millions in lost revenue from the sale could go to improving public services in the neighborhood.

The current Albee Square shop owners are not part of the new deal — and advocates think those tenants are being punished for all their hard work.

“For decades, no one — not government and not corporations — cared about Downtown Brooklyn,” Corbin said. “We made it what it is. And now that it’s considered valuable, we’re not going to stand by and watch it be gentrified, destroyed and displaced just so developers and real-estate agents can profit.

The plan would set aside 20 percent of the apartments in the subsequent tower as below-market-rate rentals, but Imperatrice said this wasn’t near enough.

City officials defended the deal, saying the new retail, residential and office tower will create 1,500 permanent jobs and 2,500 construction jobs, add much-needed office and residential space to Downtown and generate a huge amount of tax revenue, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

A final vote will come in August.

Updated 4:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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