Sunday, September 03, 2006

The innocence of our Borough President

On August 23, at the press event/rally for the Atlantic Yards project, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz described his support for the project:
The jobs that will be created, to help break the cycle of poverty in this borough, by targeting especially the folks that live in public housing around the arena, for all the apartments that will be available for people—the number one concern in our borough is the lack of the ability to live here. And I hope this project will inspire many other developers and builders throughout Brooklyn and New York to think about the possibility of creating housing with a mix of income levels. The right way—setting an example, innovative housing across America.
(Emphasis added)

Earth to Marty: developers don’t add affordable housing out of their own generosity. They answer to owners and shareholders. They include affordable housing when the incentives are right. For example, New York City recently rezoned several neighborhoods, including the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront. The inclusionary zoning offers developers more space to build if they include affordable units.

The Atlantic Yards project is similar, except for a crucial twist. The Empire State Development Corporation overrides city zoning, so there’s no cap on development. Rather, the size of the project is limited only by the political winds. The inclusion of affordable housing did not formally allow Forest City Ratner to add further square footage to its project. Rather, what I call a privately-negotiated affordable housing bonus allows the developer to argue that its out of scale development should not be reduced.

No comments:

Post a Comment