Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For the New Domino, newly unveiled MOU casts doubt on affordable housing promises

Last week, I raised questions about the guarantees of 30% affordability in the New Domino plan in Williamsburg (which approaches a full City Council vote on Thursday).

Now Williamsburg Greenpoint News+Arts advances the story, reporting:
Unlike the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning of 2005, which spelled out the inclusionary housing goals and benefits in the zoning text, the affordability aspects within the New Domino proposal are in a separate letter, a non legally binding document called a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

...In the case of the New Domino plan, the “out” lies not just with the city but with the developer CPCR as well. From a copy of the actual MOU (see at end of article) for the proposed New Domino plan, exclusively obtained by WG News + Arts, paragraph 9 in the text clearly states:

“Whereas, this MOU is not a legally binding instrument and is only intended to set forth the understandings of the parties without creating any legally enforceable rights or obligations.”

If it sounds too good to be true, remember that in other famous MOUs that have so far not been fully met, if at all met, like the second MOU attached to the Atlantic Yards proposal, developers were actually required to pay fines and restitution if the deal were to fall apart.
With Atlantic Yards the issue was less the nonbinding MOU (about which I wrote in September 2006), but the many loopholes in the Development Agreement that allow delay.

City officials mum

Today, the New York Post follows up in its Brooklyn blog, as usual not crediting those who had the story first:
City officials yesterday declined to explain why the zoning text wouldn’t include language guaranteeing 30-percent affordability.

But Susan Pollack, project manager for “The New Domino” plan, said the MOU “which we have signed, is the format the city selected to codify and memorialize our commitment. “ She vowed to deliver on the 30-percent guarantee.
Actually, she's Susan Pollock.

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