Friday, November 18, 2011

Forest City seems to be backing off its pledge to have 50% of affordable apartments be larger units. What will Bertha Lewis say?

As I've noted, the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA, below) requires an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM), who should have been reporting on the progress of the Pre-Apprentice Training Program, subject of a lawsuit filed this week.

Does the ICM enforce the housing pledge, part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between developer Forest City Ratner and ACORN? No, but there's need for oversight, because the developer seems to be changing the plan, providing more smaller apartments than pledged.

According to page 7 of the CBA, ACORN--or, now more likely, its successor New York Communities for Change--was supposed to "form and facilitate a Housing Council" for community input regarding those buildings.

What will Bertha Lewis say?

It's not clear now who exactly is responsible, given ACORN's demise, but Bertha Lewis, the vocal leader of ACORN and backer of Atlantic Yards, has pledged publicly she would hold Forest City to its agreement.

So far, the signs suggest Lewis has a lot to ask about. Or, maybe she's been told: the CBA (p. 24) states that the developer "will not announce or agree to any material modifications in the 50-50 Program without the prior approval of ACORN."

As I explained earlier today, the first tower is supposed to have 88.6% smaller units--studios and one-bedrooms. (The Post reported "130 studios, 180 one-bedrooms and 40 two-bedroom units.")

The 50% pledge

Meanwhile, the developer and ACORN promised that that "approximately 50% of all affordable apartments will be 2- and 3-bedroom units." Even though that was floor area, not number of units, according to my calculations, studios and one-bedrooms should make up only 64% of the number of affordable units.


That was in the 50/50 Affordable Housing MOU (excerpted at right), part of the CBA.

Now maybe Forest City says it will increase the number of larger units on the back end.

But it's also plausible they'll say things have changed and they have to do what's economically feasible to them.

The press should be asking questions of ACORN's successor, Lewis, and Forest City.

Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

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