Friday, November 14, 2014

Before hearing on housing bonds Monday, a fact sheet on 535 Carlton tower (298 subsidized units)

There will be a public hearing on Monday, 11/17/14 on tax-exempt bonds for 535 Carlton, built at the corner of Carlton Avenue and Dean Street, the first tower to be built by the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture (and the first under the name Pacific Park Brooklyn), with 298 subsidized apartments.

More of them are family-sized than the first tower but the configuration disproportionately emphasizes middle-income units. The amount of bonds, $73 million, is less than the $92 million sought for the larger B2 tower, which had half market-rate units.

The hearing, which also will cover applications for numerous other tax-exempt bond requests, will be at 11:30 a.m. in the main Conference Room of the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC), 110 William Street, 10th Floor, in Manhattan. (It will also be webcast and on toll-free phone.)

The public is allowed to make comments and, while they surely are noted by staff, they do not--based on the experience with the first tower--make much of a difference. Groundbreaking is expected in December.

The fact sheet

The Pacific Park Brooklyn - 535 Carlton Fact Sheet sent to me by the New York City Housing Development Corporation (below) and also available at the hearing, summarizes the overall project and provides some details on the building, most of them already known. The fact sheet was almost certainly prepared by the developer.

The building will have 298 units for low-, moderate- and middle-income households; as noted in the chart at the bottom of the second page, half the units will go to households earning up to 165% of Area Median Income (AMI).

Given that current AMI is $83,900 for a family of four, 165% is $138,435. They'd pay nearly $3,000--and likely more when the building opens in the fall of 2016.

A couple of self-serving aspects deserve comment:
  • the project is not actually "in downtown Brooklyn," even Forest City describes it as "the dynamic intersection of Prospect Heights, Ft. Greene, Park Slope and Downtown Brooklyn," though it's more precisely Prospect Heights plus a bit of Park Slope--and certainly very close to Fort Greene and DTB
  • it will not contain an "8 acre public park" but rather publicly accessible open space
  • the rendering is flatteringly demure for an 18-story, 193-foot tower (note that 184 feet is supposed to be the maximum height of the last occupiable floor)
  • (they corrected a typo and revised the fact sheet that I published earlier this morning. It now shows the lowest-income band is 5%, not 50%)

More family-sized units

As I've written, the configuration, which overemphasizes better-off households, is a retreat from the promised allotment of subsidized units, but, compared to the first, stalled tower, there would be far more family-sized units: approximately 66 studios (20%), 129 one bedroom units (45%), 88 two bedroom units (30%) and 15 three bedroom units (5%).

NYC HDC confirmed that that configuration will be spread evenly throughout the building, rather than skewing the larger units--as in the first tower--to the upper affordable bands.

There will be approximately 9,610 sf of retail on the ground floor and numerous amenities, including a 24-hour doorman, fitness center, children’s play area, bike storage, resident lounge, and roof terrace. Laundry rooms with washer and dryer appliances to be located on each floor.

Financing plan--less bonding thatn first tower

There's no overall price tag for the building, but, as noted in the fact sheet, it may include up to $73 million in Bonds, as well as Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HDC Second Mortgage & Developer Equity.

That second mortgage, according to the document below, would be $11,785,000--the source of Mayor Bill de Blasio's not-quite-credible claim that the city is getting twice as much affordable housing for the same allotment.

That said, it appears that NYC HDC is allotting a smaller amount of its limited bonding capacity--not a direct subsidy but a finite resource--to this tower, given that the first tower got $92 million for 363 total units, 181 of them subsidized. It's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, because half the affordable units in this new tower are too expensive to get that second mortgage and thus closer to market rates.

HDC Letter, B14, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

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