Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Affordable housing plan at Brig site results from community-driven development

Yesterday, the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced the selection of a developer for the redevelopment of the Navy Brig site in Wallabout, north of Fort Greene, bounded by Flushing Avenue to the north, Park Avenue to the south, Clermont Avenue to the east, and Vanderbilt Avenue to the west.

About 77% (or 334) of the 434 residential will be affordable to families earning between 30 percent and 130 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is equivalent to a salary range of $21,250 to $92,170 for a household of four--a slightly narrower range than in the Atlantic Yards plan, where the AMI goes up to 160 percent.

Of 179 co-op units, 75 percent will be affordable to households earning up to 130 percent of AMI. (Atlantic Yards would have 200 affordable for-sale units on site, with the income range unspecified.) Of 231 rentals, 97 will be for supportive housing affordable to individuals earning up 60 percent of AMI. That's absent from the Atlantic Yards plan. Also, 67 rental units will be affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of AMI, and 30 rentals units will be affordable to households earning up to 80 percent of AMI. The rest will be market-rate units.

The income mix is far more affordable than the Atlantic Yards plan, but the costs are significantly different; this was city land, not land needed to purchase, and there's no need to move and deck over a railyard.

That said, we don't know what a full RFP might have produced for the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard and surrounding areas.

Planning principles

HPD's press release makes the new plan sound like the UNITY plan developed for the Vanderbilt Yard (and scheduled to be updated this Saturday):
HPD hosted an International Design Workshop in December 2003 to create a vision for the redevelopment of the site. Community residents, local business and community-based organization leaders, elected officials, and staff from HPD and other City agencies participated. The three-day workshop resulted in a set of planning principles, a tentative development program, and a conceptual site plan. Following the workshop, HPD established a 14-member community task force to help the City refine the site plan and continue the dialogue with area residents, community representatives and elected officials. The task force met five times and its members approved the Request for Proposals (RFP). The task force played a critical role in the selection of the development team.

And Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council Member Letitia James, antagonists regarding Atlantic Yards, both find themselves praising this new plan, in which all the buildings will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Faster affordable housing?

Construction is anticipated to begin in the late spring or early summer of 2008; could it be that this plan delivers more affordable housing faster than would Atlantic Yards?

AY affordable housing wouldn't arrive, in a best-case scenario, until 2009 or 2010, with most of the 2250 rentals (and 200 for-sale units) in the uncertain second-phase.

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