FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 15, 2020
Ridgewood Tenants Union Protests Outside of Luxury Developer’s Home to Demand Accountability for His Blatant Disregard of the Ridgewood Community
Jamaica Estates, Queens – Members of the Ridgewood Tenants Union protested Monday morning outside the house of Meir Babaev, president of AB Capstone. The developer is set to build a 17-story “as-of-right” luxury tower in Ridgewood, Queens and has refused to meet with the group despite repeated requests since 2015. The demonstration started at 5:30am and woke up Babaev’s neighbors and his wife, Marina Babaev, who yelled from the door of their $3 million home, “He doesn’t live here!” as an 11 car caravan drove around the block four times creating a loud noise disturbance until an NYPD patrol arrived 20 minutes after the protest started.
Babaev’s luxury development project is set to become the tallest building in the Ridgewood and Bushwick neighborhoods but its current construction site, located one block away from the Myrtle Ave & Wyckoff Ave intersection, has been stalled since 2019. Working class tenants and tenants of color are alarmed by the harm this project will cause as luxury development drives up rents in a neighborhood where they are already struggling and they are outraged at the total disregard Babaev has shown the Ridgewood community. Since announcing their plans in 2015, AB Capstone has received numerous complaints from commercial tenants on the lots they purchased for work without permits, unsafe scaffolding, and water leaks as a result of demolition work at their construction site. The lack of maintenance at the site creates piles of garbage that accumulate on a daily basis and has created an eyesore in the neighborhood. Further, the scaffolding and the wooden planks surrounding the site have created unsafe conditions for pedestrians who are forced to walk in the streets next to moving cars in a high traffic area to get to their destinations.
The current plan for the project does not include housing that is truly affordable for those most at risk of displacement and who have been made even more vulnerable by the coronavirus pandemic. While millions of working-class tenants are facing eviction due to COVID 19, Babaev is choosing to build a glass façade tower with 138 luxury apartments, a pool and 341 parking spaces. Babaev’s house is located in the same affluent neighborhood were Trump was raised and just last month, his property management team placed “all lives matter” and “blue lives matter” signs on their scaffolding. The social media for Babaev and his property manager, Jaime Contreras, show that they are both Trump supporters. The tagline on Babaev’s Instagram account is, “We build what we want,” which showcase his blatant disregard for communities of color which he profits from.
At the protest outside of Babaev’s house, members of the Ridgewood Tenants Union were met with deep hostility from his neighbors. One neighbor shouted right in front of a protestor’s face and said they should not be allowed to destroy his peace and his neighborhood. “Why should he and his neighbors get rest when Meir Babaev is causing our community to lose our sleep and our homes over the displacement his project will bring?” said Bonnie Gil, a leader with the Ridgewood Tenants Union.
About the Ridgewood Tenants Union:
The Ridgewood Tenants Union is a tenant led housing group that works to build power among community
members to fight displacement. It does this by organizing tenant associations, know your rights sessions,
and anti-gentrification neighborhood-wide campaigns.
*Videos & pictures of the protest outside the home of Meir Babaev are available upon request.*