St. Ignatius Church in Crown Heights was affiliated with my Jesuit High School, Brooklyn Preparatory, which I attended more than half a century ago.
So you can imagine how shocked I was when I passed there several years ago and saw that developers had torn down the church. It was a moral offense committed not only by the developer but by the Brooklyn Roman Catholic Church, which owns the land and allowed the developer to do that. Of course, the de Blasio administration has a role in all this also.
Bold State Assemblywoman revealed the city's collusion with the developers two months ago, in the above video. She deserves credit for taking this brave position.
Moving with greedy intentions, under the virtual cover of night, developers demolished St. Ignatius Catholic Church, built around World War I, and then announced plans to place market/affordable housing there.
Either they changed their mind or they were lying all along, because the city announced that it is turning the prison-like building into a homeless shelter.
Earlier this week, community opponents, led by Dion Ashman, went to state Supreme Court to get a restraining order against the city. Ashman told me that the city, finding out about the community's intentions, sneaked the first homeless families into the building on Monday. (DNAinfo has this: "Family Shelter Opens on Rogers Avenue Amid Opposition From Locals."
Assemblywoman Richardson says the actions of the city and the developer are insulting to the predominantly black Crown Heights community. Richardson says Crown Heights needs affordable housing so low-wage earners can stay in their community. Many say the actions of the de Blasio administration will lead to further displacement of black and brown residents. Rents and food prices there and elsewhere nearby are exploding.
Richardson, ever feisty and a Crown Heights native, has bashed other elected officials for not standing forcefully enough with community activists.
All through this St. Ignatius controversy, the Diocese of Brooklyn, which owns the land upon which the church once stood and the prison-like building now sits, has been silent. The Catholic Church leased the property to developers for 99 years. The developers always show up on papers as an LLC, a limited liability corporation, so that they don't have to reveal their actual names.
The Catholic Church obviously knows who they are, but the Church sits silently -- unlike the young man who two millennia ago chased money changers out of a temple.