Skip to main content

AY snug or stingy? 575 sf for 1BR, 775 sf for 2BR

The Atlantic Yards web site now offers some details that might have further frustrated attendees at the affordable housing information session Tuesday. Half the affordable rentals would contain two and three bedrooms (unlike some other affordable housing programs), but the apartment sizes would be comparatively small. In fact, the minimum size projected for a two-bedroom rental would be nearly nine percent smaller than the standard size for a two-bedroom unit in city public housing.

[Note 7/21/06: I should acknowledge that the sizes are those mandated by city guidelines, not that Forest City Ratner explained that.]

Developer Forest City Ratner and ACORN, the housing advocacy group that has partnered on the affordable housing program, have emphasized that the range of units is aimed to better accommodate families, But the number of bedrooms does not mean a particularly large apartment. Indeed, the small size suggests that affordable housing would occupy an even smaller share of the total housing component than previously thought.

Apartment Sizes:
Studios 400 Square Feet or larger
One bedroom 575 Square Feet or larger
Two bedrooms 775 Square Feet or larger
Three bedrooms 950 Square Feet or larger

By contrast, a 10/04 article in the NYC Housing Authority Journal on the Whitman/Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn states that "some two-bedroom apartments are less than 500 square feet, compared to the present-day standard of 850 square feet."
(Emphasis added)

A 2005 Report to the New York City Public Advocate: Affordable Housing in New York City, describes (p. 109) two-bedroom apartments as occupying larger spaces: 800 square feet, 875 square feet, and 950 square feet.

Affordable housing percentage shrinks

Atlantic Yards was originally touted as an innovative plan in which half of the residential units--at that point all rentals--would be affordable. (See October 2004 flier at right. Click to enlarge.) When the Housing Memorandum of Understanding was signed in May 2005, Forest City Ratner had accomplished a crucial switch: the 50 percent affordable goal would apply only to the rentals, thus leaving the developer free to soon add market-rate condos, initially 2800, now 2360. (Borough President Marty Markowitz got it wrong at the MOU press conference, claiming "a commitment to build a full 50 percent of Atlantic Yards housing as affordable.")

So, of 6860 total units, 2250 affordable units would represent just under 33 percent. The decrease gets more dramatic if you look at the square footage involved. The average affordable apartment would contain 675 square feet. It's hard to imagine that the average market-rate unit would be that small--Forest City Ratner would have to compete with other developers offering much larger two-bedroom units, for example.

At an average of 675 square feet, the 2250 affordable apartments would take up 1.52 million square feet. The entire housing component would be 6.79 million gross square feet, according to the ESDC's Final Scope of Analysis. That suggests that affordable housing might occupy a little more than 22 percent of the total housing square footage.

22 percent? That number does not mean that the market-rate housing would occupy 78 percent of the space, since the housing square footage invariably includes common spaces not assigned to any apartment. Still, because the affordable units would be smaller than the market-rate units, the percentage of space devoted to affordable housing would not be commensurate with the percentage of units (33 percent of total). In other words, 50/50 has shrunk to 67/33, and then even further.

Note: Forest City Ratner does plan to build 600-1000 for-sale affordable units, which could bring the percentage of affordable units up over 40 percent, but FCR's Jim Stuckey was rather vague about that Tuesday. Faced with a crowd that already thought that several tiers of apartments were geared to those wealthier than them, Stuckey did not mention the language in the MOU: "It is currently contemplated that a majority of the for-sale units will be sold to families in the upper affordable income tiers."

More in the market

The typical market-rate rental unit in congested Manhattan is larger than the minimum affordable housing unit announced by Forest City Ratner. For example, firm Citi Habitats used the following in its 2004 analysis of rentals in Manhattan:

Studios 500 square feet (or 450 square feet in certain neighborhoods)
One bedroom 680 square feet (or 620 square feet in certain neighborhoods)
Two bedrooms 1050 square feet
Three bedrooms 1350 square feet

Across Atlantic Avenue from the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint, the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank, now known as One Hanson Place, is offering, for some hefty market-rate prices, one-bedroom units ranging from 722 to 937 square feet and two-bedroom units from 1054 to 1475 square feet.

Other subsidized housing

Other buildings in subsidized housing programs also offer more space, according to a quick literature search. A 2001 New York Times article on Ruppert Yorkville Towers, a middle-income complex on the Upper East Side in the Mitchell-Lama program, cited "studios with 439 square feet to... three-bedroom apartments with 1,253 square feet."

A March 2000 article on Mitchell-Lama housing in Brooklyn Heights cited studio apartments "ranging from 350 to 600 square feet." The upper limit would be larger than an affordable Atlantic Yards one-bedroom unit.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…