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

As Atlantic Yards advisory group finally meets tomorrow, vague agenda, questions about six-month look-ahead. Will all/most coming "affordable" units rent to those earning $100,000+?

Sometime this past Friday, 7/24/20, we got an agenda (right), typically vague, for tomorrow's long-awaited meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

The telephonic meeting will be webcast here.

The board, dominated by gubernatorial appointees but with a few who've shown some independence, is supposed to meet quarterly, but hasn't met since last summer--in July 2019, and then a fellow-up meet a few weeks later.

Vague agenda, comments pre-meeting

The agenda includes a Community Relations Update and a Construction Activity & Project Update.

A typical public meeting enables members of the public to comment on specific agenda items and to comment in general at the end of the meeting. In this case, before knowing the actual content of the meeting--board materials are not posted yet--public comments must be submitted in writing to AYCDCBdMtg@esd.ny.gov by 4:30 pm today.

That, of course, means #covid19 meetings are less democratic than the not-so-democratic previous meetings, which have often required members of the public to go to Midtown Manhattan in the middle of a weekday. (Earlier meetings were held at Long Island University.)

Pending questions: six-month look ahead on construction

We already know, from last week's Quality of Life meeting, that Empire State Development (ESD), the gubenatorially controlled authority that is parent to AY CDC (and advised by it), that there are no updates on some big issues:
  • plans to develop Site 5, the parcel catecorner to the arena and currently occupied by Modell's and P.C. Richard
  • starting the platform over the first block of the Vanderbilt Yard, which was supposed to start this year
  • starting B5, the first tower over the platform, which apparently would be built simultaneously
But that's too pat. According to the project's Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments:
[The developer] shall provide ESD with “six month look aheads” that will describe, in general terms, the activities anticipated on the Project site for the next six months (including major milestones for areas of new construction activity, excavation, construction, anticipated maintenance and protection of traffic (“MPT”) measures, soil and groundwater remediation work and soil characterization). The six-month look aheads shall be provided to ESD one month prior to the beginning of the six-month period.
In other words, ESD should know whether or not those plans are expected to advance, within the next six-month increment. (Yes, I've filed a Freedom of Information Law request for such documents, but have not yet received them. FOIL with this entity typically moves slowly.)

Pending questions: affordable deadline

As I reported, the two towers under construction (B4 and B15), as well as the two about to start (B12 and B13), all will contain 30% affordable units. (For the latter two, that's an increase, compared to the possibility of 25%, which also had been mentioned.)

Such totals get the project somewhat closer to the required 2,250 units by May 2025, but leave a gap of 876 units, to be met, most likely, in the next two buildings, B5 and (likely) B6.

But what are the plans for those two buildings? How many affordable units will they have? When are they expected to open?

Oh, and does master developer Greenland Forest City Partners plan to ask for any waiver or extension of the deadline, given the (relatively short, it seems) disruption of construction by the coronavirus crisis?

Pending questions: affordability levels


A very large question involves affordability levels, about which the developers have said nothing, perhaps because it's possible--in one of the two apparent pending options--that all the affordable units will be geared to people earning more than $100,000, with studios starting at over $2,155/month.

If the other option is chosen, that means that two-thirds of the affordable units would be at that level. (If there are other funding options and configurations, the developers and state should say so.)

But if each of the next four towers will participate in the Affordable New York tax break program, the successor to 421-a, there are only two options, related to an Area Median Income (AMI), which  is inflated because of the presence of prosperous suburban counties. 

Under Affordable New York are these options:
  • 30% of the units must be affordable: at least 10% at up to 70% of AMI and 20% at up to 130% of AMI
  • at least 30% of the units must be affordable at up to 130% of AMI;
At right are the current income limits, by household size, as per my annotation.

Below are rent levels, by unit size, as per my annotation. Note that these likely all would go up by the time the towers open in the next few years.


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