Blockbusting, LAUNCHING an American Shtetl…
LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
Blockbusting has been an issue of concern in towns and counties up the Eastern seaboard, more recently focused on throughout the Tri-State region. It has been going on for years. Despite community and political efforts by towns, counties, legislators and Senators to curb its use, efforts seem to get lost in the abyss of corrupt politics. Blockbusting is a process whereby real-estate agents badger sellers into selling their homes either through intimidation or through lies and deceit, convincing sellers that failure to sell will result in a diminution of home values.
It has been a topic of discussion recently as towns and counties within the tri-state region fight the influx of Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox residents, who characteristically send their children to private Yeshivas, thereby taking money from public schools; and it would appear engage in shady zoning practices.
In an interesting article entitled, “How to build an American shtetl — See: Bloomingburg, N.Y.” by Uriel Helman, dated May 22, 2015 published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and on their website JTA.org, Helman outlines the Hasidic playbook:
“This is how you launch a Hasidic shtetl in 21st-century America.
- Step 1. Find a place within reasonable distance of Brooklyn where the land is cheap and underdeveloped.
- Step 2. Buy as much property as you can in your target area – if possible, without tipping off locals that you plan to turn it into a Hasidic enclave.
- Step 3. Ensure the zoning is suited to Hasidic living: densely clustered homes big enough for large families and within walking distance of the community’s vital infrastructure.
- Step 4. Build the infrastructure: Houses, a synagogue and beit midrash study hall, kosher establishments, a mikvah ritual bath. Lay the groundwork for a school. Launch a shuttle service so Hasidim who don’t drive or don’t own cars can get from the new shtetl to shopping outlets and other Hasidic communities in the region.
- Step 5. Market to the Hasidic community and turn on the lights.”
According the Helman, “That, essentially, is the playbook developer Shalom Lamm is following for what is shaping up to be America’s newest Hasidic shtetl — the town of Bloomingburg in upstate New York.”
“Lamm didn’t stop there. He bought a group of farms on 200 acres of unincorporated land about half a mile from the stoplight and in 2006 got the village to annex it and rezone it for residential development in exchange for building a new $5 million sewage treatment plant for the area. He bought the airport in the nearby village of Wurtsboro. He bought 635 acres five miles away. He also bought a house for himself in Bloomingburg and moved in (Lamm also lives in West Hempstead, on Long Island).
Soon, changes started happening in the village.”
The article continues:
If Lamm’s vision comes to fruition, there soon will be hundreds more Hasidic families in Bloomingburg – maybe thousands.
At Chestnut Ridge, the newly built 2,800-square-foot attached townhomes look like they’re straight out of a brochure for the American dream, with identical facades, fresh white garages and bright green lawns. Inside, the décor is bright, modern and spacious, with 9-foot ceilings, an upstairs laundry room, and kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
The houses also have all the accoutrements Hasidim, with their large families and Orthodox practices, might desire. The kitchens feature two stoves, sinks, ovens and microwaves – one each for dairy and meat. There’s an outdoor sukkah deck just off the dining room. Special sinks are located outside the bathrooms for ritual hand-washing, and a small room near the front is designed for a miniature library or study.
The five bedrooms upstairs have sleeping space for up to a dozen. The master bedroom easily fits two full-sized beds – Hasidic couples do not share beds during women’s menstrual periods and for a week afterward – and the walk-in closet in the master bedroom is big enough for a crib, which Lamm doesn’t doubt Hasidic parents will notice when their babies are born.
The homes are priced between $299,000 and $334,000. Once the remaining 350 or so houses are built, there will also be four playgrounds for the kids.
To read the article in the entirety click, here.
This process is playing out in communities up and down the 87 Corridor and we recommend you continue reading.
“Blockbusting” – Rockland County, Monroe Woodbury, Jackson Township, Lakewood …, LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
“Cease and Desist” as a Means of Protecting Homeowners Against Blockbusting, LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
In Rockland County, non-Orthodox try to create alternative to Hasidic dominance, jta.org, February 19, 2015