Skip to main content

Would half of the affordable apartments be 2br & 3br? No way (read the fine print)

The affordable housing component of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project would be innovative, backers say, because of a new emphasis on larger units. As I reported last month, FCR's Jim Stuckey, at an affordable housing information session, described how about half of the 2250 affordable units will be two- and three-bedroom units, thus accommodating families.

Not quite. It depends on what "half" means. As I calculate below, it looks like a little more than one-third of the units would be larger ones.

The graphic above was provided last month to session attendees and reproduced in Forest City Ratner's affordable housing slideshow. Item #4 sure suggests that half the number of apartments would be the larger ones.

And on the Atlantic Yards web site, the housing page states that "50% will be 2 and 3 bedroom units."

Square footage, not units

But it turns out that the 50% refers to total square footage, not the actual number of units. That language is in the Housing Memorandum of Understanding (p. 4) FCR signed with ACORN last year.

And it's also in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the Empire State Development Corporation. The Executive Summary states (p. 4):
Affordable units would be reserved for households making between 30 percent and 160 percent of citywide AMI (area median income) and 50 percent of these units (on a square foot basis) would be two- and three-bedroom units. (Emphasis added)

77% more smaller units

The square footage guideline makes all the difference. Because the two- and three-bedroom units are larger, there would be fewer of them, so there would be about 77 percent more of the smaller units to equalize the space.

Were the 2250 units divided equally, that would mean an average of 562.5 studios, one-bedroom units, two-bedroom units, and three-bedroom units each, under the announced apartment sizes:

Studios: 400 sf or larger
One bedroom: 575 sf or larger
Two bedrooms: 775 sf or larger
Three bedrooms: 950 sf or larger

However, the square footage guideline skews the distribution to the smaller units.

Assuming that the apartments would be all at the smallest size listed--a conservative assumption--and that pairs of larger and smaller units would be evenly divided, here are my back-of-the-envelope calculations:

Studios:719 units @ 400 sf = 287,600 sf

1-BRs: 719 units @ 575 sf = 413,425 sf

Total for the smaller units: 701,025 sf

2-BRs: 406 units @ 775 sf = 314,650sf

3BRs: 406 units @ 950 sf = 385,700 sf

Total for the larger units: 700,350 sf

Total: 1438 smaller units (64%), 812 (36%) larger units

Percentage of housing space

Let's add a little more area to a few of those larger units to reach 701,025 sf and equalize things. Double that and the total affordable housing square footage would be 1,402,050 sf.

That would represent a little less than 21 percent of the 6.79 million gross square feet proposed for housing.

Were the apartments distributed evenly among the four sizes, at an average of 675 sf, the 2250 affordable apartments would take up 1.52 million sf, or a little more than 22 percent of housing square footage.

It's unclear how much space would be alloted to market-rate housing and how much might be credited to common areas. Still, the numbers suggest that, while the affordable housing would represent less than one-third of the number of units on site, it would represent an even smaller percentage of the space devoted to housing.

More space in the market

It does seem likely that more space would be allotted for market-rate units. As noted, the typical market-rate rental unit in congested Manhattan is larger than the minimum affordable housing unit announced by Forest City Ratner. As I noted, firm Citi Habitats used the following in its 2004 analysis of rentals in Manhattan:

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

Real housing for the real Brooklyn?

Given that only half of the subsidized units would be affordable to those waiting for public housing or Section 8 vouchers, and that most families would prefer a two- or three-bedroom unit, that suggests that only 406 larger units would be made available to the "real Brooklyn" that the Daily News highlighted.

Over ten years, that would be fewer than 41 apartments a year.


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…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…

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…