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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Yes, unfilled 38 Sixth middle-income affordable units now marketed outside of housing lottery, including on StreetEasy

Update: the upper income limits have increased, based on 2018 Area Median Income.

It was predictable, wasn't it? As I wrote last November for City & State, in Simplistic math mangles the odds of affordable housing lotteries, it was a "good bet" that, as with the example of the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton that I described in City Limits in April 2017, "many of those not-so-affordable apartments" at the similar Pacific Park building, 38 Sixth, "will be hard to fill."

The building is all below-market, but 152 of the 303 units are for decidedly middle-income households. At least five such middle-income units are now on the open market, as described below, with two-bedroom apartments at $3,206 a month and three-bedroom ones at $3,695. (Studios are $2,121 and one-bedrooms are $2,663 at 38 Sixth.)

While 89,704 households filed applications for 303 apartments, the interest, understandably, skewed strongly toward lower income units. Only 1,876 households fit the income guidelines--up to 165% of Area Median Income (AMI)--for the 152 upper middle-income units, I wrote. Some were eligible for more than one unit.

Fewer pursued larger units

Here's the more specific analysis, and why two- and three-bedroom apartments are the toughest to rent. Note that the numbers regard households that made the first cut of income eligibility, before vetting, and that some drop out because they have better options or don't want to go through the paperwork:
  • 1231 one-person households for 33 studios
  • 574 two-person and one-person households for 66 one-bedroom units, but 160 of those one-person households were also eligible for less-costly studios
  • 304 households for 45 two-bedroom units, but 93 of those households were also eligible for less-costly one-bedroom units
  • 74 households for eight three-bedroom units, but 54 of them were also eligible for less-costly two-bedroom units
Such households are a tiny fraction of the city population, as the  Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) regularly points out.

(Updated) For the 45 two-bedroom units, the upper limit for income eligibility has increased, so the numbers below are 2016/2018:
  • 2 people: $111,909 - $119,625/$137,775
  • 3 people: $111,909 - $134,640/$154,935
  • 4 people: $111,909 - $149,490/$172,095
Now, open marketing

Quietly, the web site for 38 Sixth, developed by Greenland Forest City Partners, is now advertising five two-bedroom and one three-bedroom apartments to anyone who is income eligible, thus indicating that not enough people who were income-eligible via the lottery chose to take the units.

Why not? While they're rent-stabilized and a discount compared to new units nearby, they're close to market-rate for the broader area, albeit for older apartments, and the paperwork can be burdensome, as described in previous coverage of 535 Carlton.

The two-bedroom units are $3,206 a month, a slight discount compared to the $3,223 units at 535 Carlton. (Here's the 38 Sixth lottery ad; here's the one for 535 Carlton.)

One unit, #1004, has one bathroom and is 938 square feet. Three units, #1113, #1501, and #1704, have two bathrooms and are 927, 899, and 925 square feet, respectively.

Unit #2303 is $3,695 (vs. $3,716 at 535 Carlton) and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with 1,148 square feet. StreetEasy indicates that another three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit, #2310, with 1,163 square feet, was previously available but is no longer available. Here's StreetEasy's page for the building.

How many units available?

How many units at 38 Sixth were unfilled via the lottery? It's unclear, as of now.

With 535 Carlton, some 95 of 148 middle-income units went unfilled, reported Rachel Holliday Smith, before they were put on open marketing. By this past January, the developer began offering a free extra month, borrowing a leasing incentive typical for market-rate units.

I suspect that the six units for which there's evidence of open marketing is the tip of the iceberg. After all, no incentives have been announced yet. Perhaps we'll learn more at the next Quality of Life meeting or next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting.

Recalling the hype

As I wrote when building construction launched in June 2015, those hyping the building contributed to a deceptive, misleading portrayal of the affordable housing in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

From the press release:
“The people of this city need affordable housing built in real time. And make no mistake: affordable housing at Pacific Park is on the move. We committed last summer to get two new 100-percent affordable buildings in the ground by this June, and today, we are making good on that promise. Our administration is incredibly proud to have negotiated two buildings that each have double the affordable housing and reach more low-income families as the first buildings to rise at this site, all without increasing costs to the public. We are grateful to all our partners in the community, at Greenland Forest City and at the State who have worked to get these shovels in the ground,” said NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.
As I've noted, the buildings "have double the affordable housing" only because the configuration of the project has shifted, with fare more middle-income units in both 38 Sixth and 535 Carlton.

And while the buildings reach "more low-income families"--again, only because the subsidized housing is being distributed in fewer buildings--that obscures a deeper problem: the affordable housing is far less affordable than originally promised.

From the press release, with emphases added:
"It is imperative that we maximize every opportunity to construct affordable housing for Brooklynites that make up the foundation of our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I thank Greenland Forest City Partners for their commitment to advancing toward affordable housing at Pacific Park."

Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Assembly District 57, said, “As the state assembly representative of the neighborhoods directly surrounding the Pacific Park Project, it pleases me to see the partnership between Forest City Ratner Companies and Greenland USA is producing the amount of affordable housing promised to the community, especially at such a crucial time where such housing is at a premium...  
“The influx of new residential buildings in communities across New York City too often excludes the thousands of families who cannot afford market-rate housing units. The highly-anticipated construction of 38 Sixth Avenue will help alleviate the overwhelming need for affordable housing in Brooklyn while preserving the cultural and economic diversity of its surrounding community,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo... 
Bertha Lewis, Founder and President of The Black Institute, said, “Pacific Park Brooklyn is turning into an affordable housing engine. When we announced this project nearly 12 years ago, some expressed doubt that the housing would come to fruition. Today, with affordable housing an even greater crisis in New York, Pacific Park buildings are not only becoming a reality, they are becoming a model for how to build housing and communities that reflect the diversity, in every way, of our City...”
Actually, some expressed doubt that the affordable housing would be truly affordable, and questioned how much it would serve the constituency of ACORN, the low-income organization Lewis then led. As the statistics show, most of the housing will be out of reach. And Lewis, as I've written, has steered clear of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, perhaps because of her falling out with Mayor Bill de Blasio.