Sunday, September 07, 2014

City Planning Chair says new projects requiring zoning change must be 50% affordable; AY example shows the devil's in the details

The New York Times reported yesterday, New York Will Require More Builders to Add Affordable Units:
In the most forceful remarks yet of an administration determined to reshape the cityscape, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top planning official declared on Friday that affordable units will be a requirement for any future real estate project requiring a zoning change from the city.
The mandate will apply not only to neighborhood-wide redevelopments, like the earlier transformation of industrial Williamsburg into a residential mecca, but also to individual projects, as when a developer needs a waiver to graft stories onto an apartment tower in Midtown.
“You can’t build one unit unless you build your share of affordable housing,” Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the City Planning Commission, told a packed room of landlords, planners and investors at a New York Law School breakfast on Friday. “You can’t build just market-rate housing, period.”
...Surprising some audience members, Mr. Weisbrod said the requirements would apply not only to neighborhood-wide residential zoning changes, but also to virtually every apartment project of six or more stories that city planners must approve. (Projects not requiring a rezoning would still be allowed to rise without adding affordable units.)
These rules require public review but are aimed to take effect by the fall of 2015. The Times noted praise from housing advocates and wariness from developers concerned about the cost. Weisbrod offered the carrot of a speedier public review process and an acknowledgement that requirements would vary by neighborhood.

The Wall Street Journal, in turn, reported concern from developers, and quoted criticism from a development-friendly academic.

The Atlantic Yards example

The Atlantic Yards example shows that the devil is in the details. It started as a 50% affordable housing project, with 4500 rental units.. Then it was 50% for the rentals, after 2800 condos--later trimmed to 1930--were built. So that means 35% subsidized housing

And the level of affordability matters too, since the income levels promised in the original Housing Memorandum of Understanding are not those, for example, in the next two Atlantic Yards towers.

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