Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lottery opens for affordable units at 461 Dean modular tower, part of "revolution in building construction" (but no mention of problems)

So it's out, finally, after some delay: information on the 60-day lottery for the 181 affordable (or, better described as "income-linked") units at the 32-story 461 Dean Street, both via NYC Housing Connect and a new website, with lots of cheerful information.

The building is mostly studios and one-bedroom units. In the lottery, 50% of the units will be set aside for residents (or recent former residents) of Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8. Residents will pay rent based on 30% of their income, which can range from low- to middle-income, a very wide range.

Doubling down

The 461 Dean website doubles down, claiming Brooklyn as a "trendsetter" and "at the center of a revolution in building construction," given that this is "is the tallest modular building in the world."

Unmentioned: the building has taken twice as long as promised, was plagued by leaks and even mold, and has cost far more than expected. Also, while developer Forest City Ratner once aimed to build the entire project via modular construction, no other modular buildings are planned as of now.

Forest City owns this building exclusively, while its 70% partner on the rest of the towers is Greenland USA.

"Next great neighborhood"

The new web site says:
Pacific Park is Brooklyn’s next great neighborhood where everything you need is steps from your front door. Forest City Ratner Companies and Greenland Forest City Partners, in conjunction with world-class architects COOKFOX, SHoP, Marvel and KPF, are bringing to life a thriving community for all New Yorkers. At the heart of it all is a lush 8-acre neighborhood park designed by landscape architect Thomas Balsley.

First, as the document below states, the location is Prospect Heights. The "lush 8-acre park" isn't adjacent to this building and the section of the privately-operated, publicly accessible open space--not a park--nearest to this building won't open for years.

The language and promotion suggests they're aiming toward those paying middle-income rents, that is, over $2,500 for a one-bedroom and $3,000 for a two-bedroom, who might need some convincing. The scarcity of low-income housing will generate its own demand.


This is a 50% affordable/50% market-rate building, with a range of incomes, from low-income to middle-income, as long promised, but without 50% (in floor area) of the affordable units, as long promised, as family-sized units.

Studios range from $559 to $1996, one-bedrooms from $600 to $2504, and two-bedrooms from $727 (one unit!) to $3012 (16 units).

In fact, there only 36 two-bedroom units, and 16 of them are designed for the highest income category, households earning six figures. And that number was achieved only by some arm-twisting by the city.

Note that the 2015 Area Median Income was $86,300 (and is presumably similar now), not $83,900, as stated in the second file below.

The relative lack of affordability in the building was criticized in 2012 by BrooklynSpeaks and various coalition members. “By using up the available subsidies to finance smaller apartments for tenants in higher income brackets, FCRC is making it harder to build truly affordable units elsewhere in the City," said Michelle de la Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee. That criticism has not been lodged recently.

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