Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ratner on Bloomberg TV: first Atlantic Yards tower = "one- and two-bedroom apartments, primarily" (or, actually, studios)

Interviewed on Bloomberg TV 12/12/13, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner expressed confidence that the new modular apartment units in B2, the first Atlantic Yards building, would rent quickly, saying the quality is great, as is location: "I am not worried about them renting at all."

"There are a lot more people living with their parents and grandparents than there used to be in the past," one not-so-prepared host stated, asking, "The changing demographics -- how flexible are these prefabricated homes for these multi-generational families?"

"Well, there's two aspects--50% of the first building is affordable, middle-income and affordable," Ratner replied. "They're one- and two-bedroom apartments, primarily. The rest of the market really in New York City for new residential buildings are basically people between the age 25 and 35, single or just married." Older homes, he said, accommodate multi-generational families.

Even so, Ratner's answer was misleading.As noted on the chart--there look to be 149 studios (75 subsidized, 74 market-rate), 166 1BRs (70 subsidized, 96 market-rate) and 47 2BRs (36 subsidized, 11 market-rate).

While this is "one- and two-bedroom apartments, primarily," it is more precisely  "studios and one-bedroom apartments, primarily."

Remember that Ratner's partner Bertha Lewis of ACORN, writing in 7/31/06 City Limits:
And unlike many affordable housing projects in New York City, units will be available for a range of household sizes from one to six people. Half of all affordable rental units will be two- and three-bedroom units.
That hasn't happened in the first building and, to be precise, the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding Ratner and Lewis signed aimed for half of the affordable units, in floor area, to be devoted to family-sized units, 2Brs and 3BRs.

Gentrification

"What does it wind up doing to income inequality?" Ratner was asked. "I know you have a lot of units for affordable housing, but still on the outskirts, there are still going to be those who cannot even afford that. Does this push them out even further?"

"I do not think so because this is an area-- it is not like we are buying existing residential buildings, and we're redoing them," Ratner responded. "These are all brand-new. If anything, it creates more affordable housing, 2200 units in total over the whole project. So this is really more affordable units. The general idea of quote-gentrification is definitely changing neighborhoods in the city in a fairly dramatic way, and pushing low-income, low middle-income workers, people out, there's no doubt about that."

Yes, and no. There's such thing as secondary displacement, and the Atlantic Yards project certainly contributes to that--though that trend surely started before Atlantic Yards. It's just that it's unlikely that Atlantic Yards can make a huge dent in it, as proponents argued.

Picking the site

"What is your qualification when you bring some of these projects in?" another host asked. "I mean, how did you pick the Atlantic Yards?"

Of course, there's no place called "the Atlantic Yards"; that's a brand name attached to an oddly-drawn 22-acre site. "In the case of Atlantic Yards, my offices in Brooklyn, you know Brooklyn very well and you want to be in the best location," Ratner responded. "Atlantic Yards -- transportation for rental housing is the number one issue. Residential requires subways, so I want to be where a subway station is if I'm going to build here. Condominiums less important. The number one issue is really transportation."

The new mayor

Later in the interview, Ratner said of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, "We're going to have a very good mayor. I think people in the business community will be very pleasantly surprised, number one"

Let's remember that Ratner co-hosted a fundraiser for de Blasio, who depended significantly on ACORN and the Working Families Party for his political rise. And Ratner and colleagues contributed to de Blasio. Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin is one of two developers on de Blasio's transition team.

Some silly banter

Continue watching the video to capture a little friendly banter with a culturally clueless bow-tied host, Tom Keene, who twice pronounced "Beyoncé" with just two syllables.

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