Skip to main content

Given skew to middle-income "affordable" units, will future buildings emphasis lower-income ones?

I recently looked back on my 12/16/14 coverage of the groundbreaking for the "100% affordable"
535 Carlton tower, and an answer from Mayor Bill de Blasio that might have been an intriguing hint, or maybe not.

The lingering question: will any future towers with affordable units be skewed to lower-income units? Or will the current imbalance, which diverges from longstanding promises, persist?

The background

The background is that 50% of the approximately 300 units in 535 Carlton and the "100% affordable" 38 Sixth Avenue would go to households earning up to 165% of Area Median Income, or AMI, while another 15% would go to middle-income households earning up to 145% of AMI. AMI as of 2016 is $90,600.

Estimates for approximately 600 total units at 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth; AMI as of 2016 is $90,600.

But 65% of the affordable units should not be going to such households; the figure should be 40% (or 20% of the units in a 50% market/50% affordable building), as noted in the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that developer Forest City Ratner signed with ACORN in 2005, and which was incorporated into the Community Benefits Agreement.

The skewing is most noticeable regarding Band 5, which should be 20% of the total affordable units, not 50% (or 10% of the total units in a 50% market/50% affordable building).

From 2005 Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding:
These percentages, which apply to a 50% affordable building, should double for a fully affordable building.
Also note that 40% of the affordable units are supposed to be low-income, but only 30% in the next two "100% affordable" towers would be low-income.

Querying the mayor

When de Blasio took questions in 2014, I asked, "You said in your speech that this met the original Atlantic Yards vision. However, 20% of the original affordable housing promise was the highest income band. This building, 50% is the highest income band. So how does that meet the original promise?"

"Well, this is the first of many buildings," responded de Blasio. "This parallels the reality with our affordable housing plan writ large. In the year 2014, we're on track to get over 16,000 units out of 200,000. As you see the plan progress, neighborhood by neighborhood, you're going to see buildings that are 100 percent affordable, you're going to see buildings that are a lower percentage, you're going to see buildings that are primarily for folks at the lowest side of the income scale, you're going to see buildings that are mixed. Here, you're going to the original vision, in terms of tiered income scale, we intend to achieve. This building is 100 percent affordable – it's tiered, but we intend for the whole project to ultimately meet those goals."

(Emphasis added)

In that highlighted section, de Blasio was speaking generally and, indeed, the city's affordable housing program does encompass a wide mix of buildings.

What's next?

But what about Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?

Consider: based on the plan in the MOU, of the 2,250 affordable units, 450 each are supposed to go to top three "bands," involving middle- and moderate-income households. Then 675 units are supposed to go to the upper low-income band, and 225 to the lower low-income band.

However,  there are already 300 units assigned to the top upper-income band in these two towers, rather than the expected 120 units (20% of the total 600 affordable units). There are only 30 units in the lower low-income band, rather than the expected 60 (10% of the total). There are 150 units in the upper low-income band, while there should be 180 (30% of total).

Overall, 40% of the affordable units in these two buildings, or 240 units, should be for low-income households. Instead, the number is 180 units. They're 60 units behind.

That suggests that, if the MOU is to be followed that there may have to be Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings that, as de Blasio said, are "primarily for folks at the lowest side of the income scale." But we don't know it if will be followed.

What about B2?

The first building with affordable units, 461 Dean, or B2, comes closer to following the MOU, but does not, in a couple of ways.

As shown in the document below, the numbers (36 each) of units in each of the top three income bands conforms to the MOU. However, there are five 1BR and 16 2BR units in the uppermost band, and 16 1BR and five 2BR units in the one below it. (The New York City Housing Development Corporation pushed for more 2BR units from a paltry proposal, and still got fewer family-sized units than promised earlier.)

However, there are only 11 units in the lower of the two low-income bands, and 62 units in the higher of the two. The ratio, based on the MOU, should be 3-to-1, not more than 5-to-1.  (The total number, 73, is 40% of the affordable units, thus meeting that overall ratio.)

That 5-to-1 ratio has recurred in the next two all-affordable buildings. So that suggests that there will be fewer units in the lower low-income band throughout the project--unless we see changes.


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 …