Skip to main content

Despite coverage of 535 Carlton lottery flop and qualms about expensive affordable units, uncritical promotion of "new generation"

It seems clear that the happy talk upon the opening of the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton-- “Our administration is delivering on the affordable housing this community was promised," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in June--was overstated.

As I previously reported, and Rachel Holliday Smith of DNAinfo expanded on (also published in City Limits, as DNAinfo+Gothamist closed and briefly unpublished everything), the housing lottery failed to deliver takers for the middle-income units that represent half the building, because, well, few people apply for such relatively expensive units.

So it was surprising to see such sheep-like, press release-driven coverage like today's article in Metro, 535 Carlton offers ‘new generation of affordable housing’ for middle-income New Yorkers.

Only at the end of the article do we learn that studios rent for $2,137, 1-bedrooms for $2,680, 2-bedrooms for $3,223, and 3-bedrooms for $3,716, and are open to households within relatively limited income bands.

Looking at the headlines

So let's contrast that Metro headline below (which, in the deck, misleadingly mentions moderate-income households) with Smith's headlines.
From Metro
From City Limits

From DNAinfo

What we've learned: how many vacancies

Smith reports that nearly 100 of the 148 upper middle-income units in the 297-unit lottery (plus a super's apartment) were not taken, an astounding number.

Last week, Forest City Realty Trust, parent of Forest City New York, which is part of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture developing the building, disclosed that 535 Carlton was only 51% leased as of 10/26/17.

Could they have been minimizing the number they disclosed to Smith? They have a history of imprecision/exaggeration, for example telling Metro there were 100,000 applications, while I reported for City Limits that there were 92,743.

What we've learned: the explanation

Rather than rely on a spokesperson for the developer, as Metro did, Smith quoted Ismene Speliotis, executive director of Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), which oversees the housing lottery at Pacific Park buildings.

Expanding on her comments for my earlier article, Speliotis said that middle-income "band" was tougher to fill, because such households can find competitive units in the private market, not necessarily paying 30% of their income. Smith found one lottery winner who did the math and found it wasn't worth it.

Said Speliotis, “I think we should be looking at that income band [between 135-165% of Area Median Income, or AMI] and understand it, because we don’t want units to go vacant during a housing crisis."

Forest City's Ashley Cotton, on the other hand, attributed it to a need to educate people in those middle-income cohorts, which are actually small fractions of the population. (See ANHD Cheat Sheet.)

Some perspective: not the original AY plan

Smith writes:
Pacific Park’s high income requirements are not unique to the complex; the affordable units in the new City Point building in downtown Brooklyn, the Essex Crossing project in Manhattan and a 26-story residential building in Jamaica, Queens also have income ranges up to 165 percent of the area median income.
It's true that other affordable projects have significant middle-income units, but we should remember, as I wrote in City Limits, that the configuration was not the original one promised:
535 Carlton and 38 Sixth (which is nearing completion) have 50 percent upper-middle-income apartments, with rents set at 160 percent of Area Median Income, or AMI, for households with incomes up to 165 percent of AMI. So a four-person household seeking a two-bedroom apartment can earn $111,909 to $149,490.
By contrast, the initial Atlantic Yards plan designated just 20 percent of affordable units for the highest band, with rents set at 150 percent (and incomes up to 160 percent of AMI).
Also note that 535 Carlton is being used to drastically reduce taxes at a nearby condo building, thanks to a legal but questionable maneuver, as I reported.


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…