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Next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting Dec. 4; new board member with an affordable housing focus

The next meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) will be held on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 3 pm in Manhattan. (This continues a string of meetings in Manhattan, not Brooklyn, as was once the pattern after the AY CDC started meeting in 2015.)

No agenda has been released yet, but presumably there will be a presentation about the B12 and B13 towers, similar to that made at the recent Quality of Life meeting, as well as disclosure of plans to move forward on Site 5. There should also be questions about the timetable for the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard, and for affordable housing to meet the 2025 deadline for 2,250 units. (See this link for my coverage of those issues.)

The location is the parent Empire State Development: 633 Third Avenue, 37th Floor Conference Room. Those attending should RSVP by 5 pm on Tuesday, December 3. RSVP press line (800) 260-7313; RSVP public line (212) 803-3766.

Webcasting of the meeting will be available here.

The AY CDC (coverage), dominated by gubernatorial appointees has been mostly a rubber stamp. However, new member Gib Veconi, an appointee of the state Assembly, in August pushed for criticism of the ESD's willingness to grant 96,000 new below-ground space for a Chelsea Piers fitness center and field house--and got a split vote, neither for nor against the change.

Mayoral appointment finally filled

The AY CDC again has a mayoral appointee, filling the spot vacated when Jaime Stein, a Pratt academic attuned to the project's neighborhood impacts, left in early 2018, urging more transparency and accountability.

(ESD has said it will pursue greater engagement, as she proposed, regarding the changes at Site 5, involving a bulk transfer from the unbuilt B1 tower.)

The new member, Lee Warshavsky, serves as General Counsel at Settlement Housing Fund in 1999, an affordable housing provider, and has previously worked in the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

A Prospect Heights resident since 1995, Warshavsky is Co-Chair, with Veconi, of the Housing Committee of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, or PHNDC. That organization is part of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, which recently resumed advocacy regarding the project.

Querying the new member

"My involvement with Atlantic Yards has primarily been through PHNDC," Warshavsky said in response to my query. He attended, for the first time, the recent bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting. That's more than what most AY CDC members do.

"My entire professional/legal career has been in affordable housing," he said, "so certainly one of my primary goals as an AY CDC Director is to work with all of the Atlantic Yards participants to ensure that as much affordable housing as possible is created - starting with 2,250, pursuant to the MOU," or Memorandum of Understanding.

If 2,250 units is a starting place, that suggests that a greater number is expected. Indeed, if the 2,250 units are built by 2025, as required, and several more towers are later constructed before the project's "outside date" of 2035, it's likely more affordable units will be built, at least if the current Affordable NY subsidy program continues.

Moreover, if the construction at Site 5, often touted as an office project, includes apartments, some units might be income-restricted.

"I am also eager to work with all of the Atlantic Yards participants to facilitate the successful completion of this Project," Warshavsky added, "taking into account the Prospect Heights community’s needs and expectations."