Skip to main content

From BP Adams, suggestions about new development sites, and proposals to maintain affordable housing

A month ago, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued a ten-page report, Housing Brooklyn: a Road Map to Real Affordability for Brooklynites (also below).

It's definitely the beginning of a conversation, because it tosses out some ideas that are costly, complicated, and politically dicey. But it does represent a contrast with the work of predecessor Marty Markowitz, who was a little light on policy.

The complications were hinted in a 12/1/14 Wall Street Journal article headlined Brooklyn Borough President Wants to Revive Stalled Development Projects: Proposed Sites Snarled in Legal and Environmental Difficulties.

After all, as the WSJ reported, "many of the sites cited in the report haven’t been exploited because they came with hurdles, including environmental remediation [at Gowanus Green], pending litigation [at Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg- and the cost of decking over rail yards."

And one site, part of parking lot at the Brooklyn Army Terminal at the Sunset Park waterfront, would conflict with the de Blasio administration's push for industrial jobs at the complex.

Finding new sites

The article, actually, focused on the first prong of the report, to identify sites for new affordable housing, including city-owned parking lots in neighborhoods like Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Canarsie, Flatbush, Midwood, and Sheepshead Bay.

Other sites mentioned in the report (though not the WSJ) include the Livonia Avenue Corridor in East New York, the Fulton Street Corridor in eastern Bedford-Stuyvesant and Ocean Hill, Gateway Estates near Spring Creek in East New York, Greenpoint Hospital, the Brownsville Community Justice Center, and Coney Island.

Adams suggested that New York City Housing Authority properties, including parking lots and air rights, "represent a great opportunity for developing affordable housing," but hedged on any proposal--perhaps recognize the pushback to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposal--by calling for "consultation with community stakeholders, community boards and local elected officials."

As for decking the 37th Street and 62nd Street corridors, the Coney Island yards, the Coney Island Rail Depot, and the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, that could work--but would require a significant cost analysis, which was certainly not performed.

(With Atlantic Yards, the MTA's appraisal for the Vanderbilt Yard apparently underestimated the cost of a deck, but the sense that Forest City had the inside track meant there was no real competition.)

The report also suggests that government agencies work with faith-based institutions "to provide the financial and technical expertise to make best use of these untapped development rights." In many recent cases, those rights have been sold on the open market.

Changing zoning rules and tax laws

The report also suggested adding a zoning bonus to previously upzoned areas like DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, certain blocks in Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope’s Fourth Avenue, sections of Washington and/or Vanderbilt Avenues in Prospect Heights, Kings Highway and certain avenues in Midwood and Homecrest.

The report suggested that the city "revisit the parking requirements in Downtown Brooklyn so that developers who make use of the reduction in the parking requirements are also required to use the affordable housing bonus." Also, parking requirements should be reduced or eliminated in other transit-rich neighborhoods in exchange for affordable housing

The report recommended zoning that "permits more residential density, revises manufacturing and automotive districts and transforms low-rise commercial use to medium-density contextually developed housing" in areas such as:
Broadway corridor—sustainable East New York corridors—Gowanus’ Fourth Avenue—Sunset Park’s Eighth Avenue—Empire Boulevard (as part of a preservation- based rezoning of Crown Heights)—Atlantic Avenue corridor (Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights)—Nostrand Avenue (Brooklyn Junction to Kings Highway)— McGuiness Boulevard and sections south of the Navy Yard.
Maintaining affordable housing

The report argues that the city "should work to minimize the loss of affordable housing by requiring that such units remain affordable in perpetuity" rather than the 30-50 years typically tied to financing obligations. (The affordable units in the first Atlantic Yards building to start construction, B2, would last 35 years, and presumably the other buildings will be similar.)

"Otherwise, the accomplishments of today are lost before future generations get to share in the benefit of housing affordability," the report states. It's easier to require affordability if it's all government-owned land.

It also recommends selling city property to non-profit developers since its the mission of many to produce affordable housing.

Spreading the word

The report recommends partnering with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to spread the word about affordable housing.

It also recommends "multiple tiers of affordability to provide opportunities for low- and middle-income residents," with the tiers further split "so that someone with higher income qualifying for the same unit as someone with lower income does not have a significantly lower rental burden."(That's not the case with Atlantic Yards so far.)

It recommends extending preference boundaries beyond the community district so more people are eligible, as well as local preference for displaced residents, as well as projects that encourage seniors who are raising children

Going forward

The report concludes:
The recommendations made here are the beginning of a conversation that must continue in collaboration with local elected officials, community boards, neighborhood civic groups and other stakeholders to determine the best use of city-owned properties, the most effective way to implement policy and zoning reforms and the allocation of the needed Capital Budget appropriation and other financing mechanisms to achieve permanent affordability for Brooklynites. Brooklyn Borough Hall looks forward to continuing this dialogue and moving forward with an agreed upon agenda.
“Brooklyn no longer has any area that is undesirable,” Adams told the Wall Street Journal. That's not quite true, when you consider how many are leaving "Brooklyn" for "Brooklyn-like" neighborhoods in places like Jersey City. In other words, they want the gentrified lifestyle, not the location.


  1. Anonymous11:32 AM

    How do we address the same developers (Tolan) who say they build affordable housing and it's not when the residents are left with millions of dollars of construction defects. What do you when your developer is Donald Capcoccia, L&M Development & BFC Development all with connections with Empire State Development & a large donor to Gov. Cuomo. There seems to be no tracking mechanism in place to track previous buildings with construction defects, complaints to the Attorney Generals office and loans taken out by NYCHDC to make the repairs. Where is the oversight at HPD? How do they track the bad developers?

    1. You're making some serious charges here... but without specific details, they don't have weight. Can you point to specifics?


Post a Comment

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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …