Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Restoration Plaza – established during the height of the Civil Rights movement with the help of Bobby Kennedy – is removing one of its original activist tenants.
The Committee to Honor Black Heroes (CHBH), which was established by the late Korean War veteran and Civil Rights activist Sonny Carson, who was also a charter member involved in the Restoration’s founding, was served with eviction papers on Jan. 30.
According to court papers, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC) is booting the non-profit because their lease expired on Jan. 14, 2012, and they are exercising their right to not renew it.
“The premises sought to be recovered is not subject to Rent Control or the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, as amended, because the premises are a commercial space,” their court papers state.
But CHBH Chief Executive Officer Ali Lamont maintains Restoration Plaza is kicking them out because of the organization’s strong grassroots outreach to those struggling under economic hardship in the community.
“They want us out of the building because we want to help people stop foreclosures, and we do job referrals, and help veterans and we don’t charge anybody,” said Lamont.
Among this advocacy help is for to a growing number of frightened low-income tenants living in properties run by Shinda Management, whose portfolio includes one BSRC property, the 267-unit Vernon Houses, at 721 Willoughby Street.
BSRC Spokesperson Dyrnest Sinckler responded that the current eviction proceedings are the culmination of a long running dispute that has not been amicably resolved.
“Eviction proceedings have been commenced because CHBH has failed to pay rent and comply with basic safety and security regulations typical for an office complex like Restoration Plaza,” said Sinckler.
“Despite repeated requests and warnings, CHBH allows its office to be used for residential and other purposes that are unsafe, in violation of the law, inconsiderate of neighboring tenants, and inconsistent with regulations and protocols of an office complex,” he added.
Sinckler said over the last several years, several of BSRC’s affiliates sold housing developments to a partnership which included an affiliate of Shinda Management.
“Neither BSRC nor its affiliates own the properties managed by Shinda where CHBH’s efforts are allegedly focused,” he said.
“In any event, many of the tenants of Restoration Plaza are nonprofit organizations which offer free or low cost services to area residents and none of them have jeopardized their tenancy by disregarding their obligations as tenants as CHBH has done,” Sinckler added.