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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

Looking at the Affordable NY program: even middle-income units at 130% of AMI (vs. 165%) are getting pricey. A template for future Atlantic Yards towers?

Affordable apartments for high earners on LIU’s Downtown Brooklyn campus, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported 9/26/19, pointing to RXR Realty's 34-story, 476-unit apartment building at 196 Willoughby St., which includes 30 percent affordable units--at 130 percent of regional Area Median Income, or AMI.

That's middle-income, but a lower "band" than some Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing.

If the LIU building opened this year, studios would rent for $2,026, one bedrooms for $2,542, two bedrooms for $3,063, and three bedrooms for $3,530, as indicated in the second large chart below. But it just had a groundbreaking, and rents surely will have risen by the time it opens.

"Workforce housing"

RXR Executive VP Seth Pinsky, a former head of the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the incoming head of the 92nd St. Y, called the income-linked units “workforce housing, which we think is important for the borough.”

That's a not uncommon term used by city officials. And, indeed, a good number of professionals, such as teachers, might need a boost. But what does it mean in practice? To quote the Eagle:
Annual earnings for New Yorkers at 130 percent AMI are $97,110 for a single person, $110,020 for a two-person household, $124,930 for a family of three and $138,710 for a family of four. They top out at $183,170 for a family of eight.
This is one option under the "Affordable NY" program, in which future AtlanticYards/Pacific Park buildings will participate. AMI, which includes wealthy suburban counties, is steadily rising. Below are the 2019 income limits, according to HPD.

Consider that half the units in two "100% affordable" Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings have units at 165% of AMI, which is the upper "band" of middle income.

What does this mean in terms of rent?

Affordable New York

At bottom, and excerpted below, is the city's page on Affordable New York, the replacement for the 421-a tax break, which applies to projects that begin construction between January 1, 2016 and June 15, 2022, and are completed on or before June 15, 2026.

In other words, the under-construction and future Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings that will deliver the remaining 1,468 affordable units required to meet the 2,250-unit total likely will participate in this program.

There are two basic configurations. Options A through C have a 35-year (shorter) tax exemption and thus period of income restriction, while Options E through G have a longer benefit and commensurate period of income restrictions. However, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park would not qualify for Options E through G, since they apply to zones in Northwest Brooklyn and Downtown Brooklyn.

Option A includes 20% low-income units and 5% middle-income units. Option B has 10% low-income units, albeit at a higher AMI, and 20% middle-income units. Option C has 30% middle-income units, at 130% of AMI, as with the LIU building.

The tax break includes:
  • a 100% exemption for a construction period of up to three years; and
  • a 35-year post-construction tax exemption (a 100% exemption during the first 25 years and an exemption equal to the percentage of affordable units during the last 10 years).
These rental projects would be required to choose one of three affordability options and comply with it for the entire benefit period:

Option A
  • 25% of the units must be affordable: at least 10% at up to 40% of AMI, 10% at up to 60% of AMI, and 5% at up to 130% of AMI; and
  • the project cannot receive any government subsidies other than tax-exempt bond proceeds and 4% tax credits.
Option B
  • 30% of the units must be affordable: at least 10% at up to 70% of AMI and 20% at up to 130% of AMI.
Option C
  • at least 30% of the units must be affordable at up to 130% of AMI;
  • the project cannot receive any government subsidies; and
  • the project cannot be located south of 96th Street in Manhattan or in any other area established by local law.
Note that tax breaks for homeownership projects were narrowed significantly, as "the project cannot be located in Manhattan or contain more than 35 units." That pretty much eliminates the possibility of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park condos, at least until and unless the tax break is revived.