Skip to main content

In Times Real Estate section, 461 Dean gets promotional treatment (no mention of modular troubles; affordability misleading)

A correction in the Times responds to my critique:
An earlier version of this article misstated the maximum income for a family of four to be eligible for an affordable two-bedroom apartment at 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn, based on information supplied by the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies. It is $138,080, not $124,000.

Somehow the troubled B2 tower, aka 461 Dean Street, gets prominent position--a photo at the top of the web version--of an upcoming front-page New York Times Real Estate section article headlined New York’s New High-End Rentals (and in print "Advance of the Rentals").

Notably, there's nothing in the article about how this building has taken two years longer than promised, that developer Forest City Ratner and former modular factory partner Skanska are locked in litigation over huge cost overruns, and that lower floors of the building were plagued by leaks and mold.

Nor is there mention of Forest City's claim that it had "cracked the code" for modular construction, but this is the only Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park building to be built modular, as Forest City aims to sell the factory it operated with Skanska and then operated itself to finish the modules.

Nor that people are--hello--living next to an arena, with attendant crowds, some of them loud, and an arena loading dock that does not operate seamlessly as promised but sometimes stalls trucks on the street, snagging traffic.

What's the affordability?

But that's not all. The article misleads people about the affordability. Here's the relevant text:
One new rental in the current crop, 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn, will be split almost evenly between apartments with below-market rents and market-rate apartments.
The 363-unit project from Forest City Ratner Companies, which is made of prefabricated modules, will have 181 apartments with lower rents. About 40 percent of the affordable units, or 72, will be for people making 100 percent to 160 percent of the area’s median income, or up to $124,000 for a family of four. That family could end up paying $2,800 a month for a two-bedroom, said Susi Yu, an executive vice president of Forest City.
Interestingly enough, that ignores the 109 affordable units for lower- and moderate income people, who perhaps are not expected to read the Times.

Also, that misstates the current Area Median Income (AMI) and projected rents, since it relies on 2012 numbers. And it fails to point out that, while income limits are 160% of AMI, the rent for that cohort is calculated from 150% of AMI.
From FCR presentation

When the building launched in of 2012, when AMI was $83,000, income limits (160% of AMI) were $132,800, according to a Forest City presentation. See chart at right.

However, since rents would be set at 150% of AMI, for the best-off "affordable renters," rents would be calculated at 30% of $124,500. 

That should equal $3,112.50. (Here's the math: [$124,500 x .3]/12.)

But yes, in 2012, the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) did estimate rents at $2,740 a month, so obviously there's an adjustment factor. See chart below.

Today, the most recently available AMI, according to the NYC HDC, is $86,300 for a four-person household. 160% of AMI is $138,080. Now, it's possible the AMI has dipped down or nudged up for 2016, but it's clear Yu's $124,000 figure is wrong.

Rents will be set based on 150% of AMI, or $129,450 for a four-person household, based on 2015 numbers.

That should equal $3,236.25. (Here's the math: [$129,450 x .3]/12.)

Again, however, there's clearly an adjustment factor. 

Let's look at it another way: the most recent AMI, $86,300, represents a nearly 4% rise from $83,000. Apply that percentage to the previous figure of $2,740, and the monthly rent should be $2,849.

That's not too far from Yu's estimate--a little less than 2%--but its far enough off that they shouldn't be rounding off the numbers.

Reaching the better off

From the article:
“This is actually a segment of the market that really has been overlooked,” Ms. Yu said, referring to the income bracket of that same family of four.
Well, it may have been overlooked by developers--what middle-income household doesn't want a deal?--but actually the segment is a tiny fraction of New Yorkers, and hardly those who most need subsidized housing. See the chart at right from the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development.

What's market rate?

From the article:  
Forest City has not yet determined what a market-rate two-bedroom would cost in the building. In December, the median price of a two-bedroom in Brooklyn was $3,350 a month, Elliman said.
That's only a 17.6% premium. That said, the median price in the area for new construction may be higher. StreetEasy says the least expensive two-bedroom rental in a new or newly converted building in Downtown Brooklyn is $3,754, while in Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, and Prospect Heights it's $3,300. (That's eliminating one cheaper anomaly.)

While 461 may offer some luxury amenities, the location and troubled history may make it difficult to get premium prices.

About the lottery

The article states:
To score one of the coveted reduced-rent units at 461 Dean, renters must enter a lottery, which will be organized by Forest City and the city’s Housing Development Corporation.
When the lottery is announced, which is expected “imminently,” according to a project spokeswoman, applicants will have 60 days to register at the New York City Housing Connect web page, or by paper application. To get the word out about the application process, Forest City will contact labor unions, community boards and churches.
Each applicant will receive a number. If that number is drawn, he or she must submit tax returns, landlord references and bank statements to verify eligibility. Priority will be given to people with visual impairments and other disabilities, and secondarily, to those who live within the boundaries of Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 3, 6 and 8. Municipal workers also will have an advantage.
(Emphases added)

Note that, in public discussion (and, yes, most of my coverage), mention of the lottery cites the 50% priority to residents (or recently-departed residents) of the three Community Districts.

As I wrote in July 2006, covering an affordable housing information session:
There is a housing lottery, but the preferences announced, required by city regulations, deflated some people in the room. Half the affordable units—1125 of 2250—would be reserved for residents of the three Community Boards, CBs 2, 6, & 8. Five percent would go to police officers and another five percent to city employees. Five percent would go to the mobility-impaired and one percent each to the sight- and hearing-impaired. That’s two-thirds of the units, plus ten percent for seniors, though there could be some overlap.
Note that that was before the preference was expanded to residents of Community Board 3. Also note that the preferences may be re-allocated depending on different buildings. But it also means that a lot of people, especially those seeking low-income units, will be frustrated. 


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…