Skip to main content

“Affordable” studio would cost more (per square foot) than market-rate studio

We all know that the term “affordable” when it comes to housing is “a relative thing,” to quote Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, but that's ever so true when it comes to Atlantic Yards.

The fine print--and it is fine--in the Atlantic Yards Financial Projections document unearthed in the lawsuit by Assemblyman Jim Brennan and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery suggests something quite curious: affordable middle-income studio apartments in the Atlantic Yards project would cost more per square foot ($55.83, above) than market-rate studios ($51.62, below) in the same building.
(Click to enlarge)

The document projects that phenomenon in every rental building. (See Tower 2, on p. 13 of the PDF.) The market-rate units would still cost a bit more on a monthly basis, $2151 vs. $1861, but that’s because they’d be 500 square feet, as opposed to 400 square feet.

In rental apartments constructed later in the planned build-out, costs for both types of units would rise; in Towers 12/13 (see p. 43 of PDF), the market rent would be $53.33/sf, leading to a $2169 monthly rent (500 sf), while the rent for upper-tier affordable studios would be $57.83/sf, leading to a $1928 monthly rent (400 sf).

Given that rate increases for both market-rate and affordable units would be governed by rent stabilization, the difference in value between the market-rate and upper-income affordable studio seems negligible.

Top tier only

Note that this applies only to the most expensive of the affordable units, those available to households earning 141% to 160% of Area Median Income, or AMI. (There would be 450 such apartments, with perhaps 112--one out of four--studios.) A single person eligible for such a unit would earn $69,403 to $79,408, according to the developer's chart of estimated rents (right, click to enlarge).

For the purposes of the document released to Brennan, there are four different income categories, as two low-income bands, up to 50% AMI, are conflated into one. (There are five income categories in the affordable housing Memorandum of Understanding.)

Staggering rents

The document suggests a significant inconsistency between market-rate and affordable units. In Tower 2, for example, the market-rate rentals—studios, 1 BR, 2 BR, and 3 BR—all would rent at $51.62/sf. The middle-income affordable rentals would range from $34.93/sf for the 3 BR to $55.83 for the studios.

Similar laddering is evident in all the affordable income bands--smaller units are significantly more expensive than larger ones. In fact, a studio apartment in the second-highest income band (101% to 140% of AMI) would rent for $44.67/sf, more expensive on a square foot basis than affordable units (except for studios) in the highest income band.

Explanation, please

Not all this is new. The projected monthly rents were revealed last year in the developer's housing chart and the size of the affordable apartments, governed by a New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) program, was also publicized last year.

But the cost per square foot was not discussed until this document surfaced. Most crucially, the developer had not announced the projected costs and sizes of the market-rate apartments.

The laddering among the affordable units is apparently not triggered by the developer but by the NYC HDC , which would authorize bonds for the market and affordable rental housing. I asked for more details from NYC HDC spokesman Aaron Donovan, who responded, "Forest City Ratner has not applied for financing from us, so it would be premature to speculate about rent structures."

[Update: A year ago, I reported that I had received from NYC HDC Resolutions of Declarations of Intent, passed between July 20, 2004 and July 19, 2006, passed by the HDC board, which do not assure tax-exempt bonds for a measure of affordable housing; they simply mean that a developer may apply for such financing.]


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 + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, 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--but not yet approved--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…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


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…