Monday, July 02, 2007

Second thoughts on Downtown Brooklyn rezoning; James, Yassky, Markowitz call for affordable housing

The Downtown Brooklyn rezoning was supposed to spur office space and thus office jobs, but instead the increased density has proved lucrative to developers who are building luxury housing.

That wasn't the plan, which has left the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership hoping for "creative industries" and boosters like Errol Louis with blinders.

Now City Council Members Letitia James and David Yassky are calling for the Bloomberg Administration to amend the plan to require affordable housing, reports the Brooklyn Paper. And Borough President Marty Markowitz, who has clashed with Atlantic Yards opponent James regarding the borough's most controversial project, also suggests it's time to revisit the plan.

There's a logic to that; the city increased the value of the land and has an argument that it should get something back in return; if not new tax revenues from jobs, then subsidized housing.

But Brad Lander of the Pratt Center for Community Development, while a supporter of the concept, told the newspaper he was skeptical the city administration would buy it.

It's not clear to me whether the three officials actually agree; the revision of the 421-a tax break would require affordable housing in Downtown Brooklyn, though maybe they want affordability to be required of projects already in the pipeline. James called for 50 percent affordable housing, rather than 20 percent as required by 421-a, which is unlikely; Markowitz and Yassky spoke more generally.

How many affordable?

The Brooklyn Paper reported;
The Partnership contends that 3,000 of the planned 17,000 new units in the pipeline will be affordable housing, but [president Joe] Chan’s spokesman, Shane Kavanagh, declined to give details at this point.

Well, that's because, out of nearly 3200 affordable units listed in a document distributed by the Partnership in April, 2250 of them are attributed to the Atlantic Yards project, which might extend the definition of Downtown Brooklyn, but was not included in the rezoning.

Marty on the "carve-out"

Markowitz, by the way, is a bit behind the curve with the "Atlantic Yards carve-out." His spokeswoman told the Brooklyn Paper that he is “studying the legislation to see the implication on affordable housing in Brooklyn."

After that quote was delivered, even Mayor Mike Bloomberg, another Atlantic Yards supporter, on Friday criticized the bonus for Forest City Ratner.

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