Skip to main content

Would half of the affordable apartments be 2br & 3br? No way (read the fine print)

The affordable housing component of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project would be innovative, backers say, because of a new emphasis on larger units. As I reported last month, FCR's Jim Stuckey, at an affordable housing information session, described how about half of the 2250 affordable units will be two- and three-bedroom units, thus accommodating families.

Not quite. It depends on what "half" means. As I calculate below, it looks like a little more than one-third of the units would be larger ones.

The graphic above was provided last month to session attendees and reproduced in Forest City Ratner's affordable housing slideshow. Item #4 sure suggests that half the number of apartments would be the larger ones.

And on the Atlantic Yards web site, the housing page states that "50% will be 2 and 3 bedroom units."

Square footage, not units

But it turns out that the 50% refers to total square footage, not the actual number of units. That language is in the Housing Memorandum of Understanding (p. 4) FCR signed with ACORN last year.

And it's also in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the Empire State Development Corporation. The Executive Summary states (p. 4):
Affordable units would be reserved for households making between 30 percent and 160 percent of citywide AMI (area median income) and 50 percent of these units (on a square foot basis) would be two- and three-bedroom units. (Emphasis added)

77% more smaller units

The square footage guideline makes all the difference. Because the two- and three-bedroom units are larger, there would be fewer of them, so there would be about 77 percent more of the smaller units to equalize the space.

Were the 2250 units divided equally, that would mean an average of 562.5 studios, one-bedroom units, two-bedroom units, and three-bedroom units each, under the announced apartment sizes:

Studios: 400 sf or larger
One bedroom: 575 sf or larger
Two bedrooms: 775 sf or larger
Three bedrooms: 950 sf or larger

However, the square footage guideline skews the distribution to the smaller units.

Assuming that the apartments would be all at the smallest size listed--a conservative assumption--and that pairs of larger and smaller units would be evenly divided, here are my back-of-the-envelope calculations:

Studios:719 units @ 400 sf = 287,600 sf

1-BRs: 719 units @ 575 sf = 413,425 sf

Total for the smaller units: 701,025 sf

2-BRs: 406 units @ 775 sf = 314,650sf

3BRs: 406 units @ 950 sf = 385,700 sf

Total for the larger units: 700,350 sf

Total: 1438 smaller units (64%), 812 (36%) larger units

Percentage of housing space

Let's add a little more area to a few of those larger units to reach 701,025 sf and equalize things. Double that and the total affordable housing square footage would be 1,402,050 sf.

That would represent a little less than 21 percent of the 6.79 million gross square feet proposed for housing.

Were the apartments distributed evenly among the four sizes, at an average of 675 sf, the 2250 affordable apartments would take up 1.52 million sf, or a little more than 22 percent of housing square footage.

It's unclear how much space would be alloted to market-rate housing and how much might be credited to common areas. Still, the numbers suggest that, while the affordable housing would represent less than one-third of the number of units on site, it would represent an even smaller percentage of the space devoted to housing.

More space in the market

It does seem likely that more space would be allotted for market-rate units. As noted, the typical market-rate rental unit in congested Manhattan is larger than the minimum affordable housing unit announced by Forest City Ratner. As I noted, firm Citi Habitats used the following in its 2004 analysis of rentals in Manhattan:

Studios: 500 sf (or 450 sf in certain neighborhoods)
One bedroom: 680 sf (or 620 sf in certain neighborhoods)
Two bedrooms: 1050 sf
Three bedrooms: 1350 sf

Real housing for the real Brooklyn?

Given that only half of the subsidized units would be affordable to those waiting for public housing or Section 8 vouchers, and that most families would prefer a two- or three-bedroom unit, that suggests that only 406 larger units would be made available to the "real Brooklyn" that the Daily News highlighted.

Over ten years, that would be fewer than 41 apartments a year.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: no new towers, unfilled affordable units, Islanders prepare to leave, project timetable fuzzy

My 2018 preview.

It was another wait-and-see year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with one big twist--the beginning of a slow goodbye for the New York Islanders--but continued delays for towers, a lost (mostly) 421-a subsidy for condos, and new skepticism about unfilled not-so-affordable housing units.

So ongoing questions linger regarding the project's pace, affordability, and even future ownership.

In my 2017 preview, I predicted--not exactly going out on a limb--that two and likely three more towers would open, though it would be unclear how fast they'd lease up and sell.

Indeed, we've learned that the middle-income below-market units at 461 Dean (which opened in 2016) and 535 Carlton have leased very slowly, while it's too soon to assess progress for commensurate units at 38 Sixth. (At 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, middle-income units make up half the "100% affordable" buildings.) Meanwhile, many apartments are up for rent at the 550 Vanderbilt condo buildin…