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

B12/B13 will have 30% affordable housing (not 25%). Will all/most of those units rent for $2,155+? Will 2025 affordable deadline be met?

The new B12 (615 Dean) and B13 (595 Dean) towers, with 798 apartments total, will have 240 affordable units (30%), according to information recently shared by Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project.

Previously, we'd known the percentage would be at least 25% and possible 30%.

That information, shared with members of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation and then circulated more broadly, does not, however, answer some key questions:
  • what are the income levels? 
  • will these be all middle-income, with an "affordable" studio starting at $2,155 (according to current rent levels)?
  • what's the distribution among small and large apartments?
Keep in mind that even "low-income" units, at least for households at 70% of Area Median Income (AMI), would rent for $1,356/month for a one-bedroom, under current rent levels, which likely would rise by the time these buildings open in 2023. Such low-income units are still beyond the reach of many apartment-seekers.

Regarding middle-income units at 130% of AMI, a one-bedroom would rent for $2,700/month as of today, while a two-bedroom would rent for $3,235 and a three-bedroom for $3,728. Again, current rent levels likely would rise.

Another lingering question, as I describe below, is the square footage of the buildings allotted to housing.

Perhaps we'll learn more at the virtual Quality of Life meeting on 7/21/20.

The looming 2025 deadline

Combined with the under-construction B4 (18 Sixth) and B15 (664 Pacific), that means that 1,374 affordable units should be completed by 2023, as noted in the graphic.

That still leaves a significant challenge--a gap of 876 units--to meet the requirement of 2,250 affordable units completed by May 31, 2025. (Note: they count B14 as having 298 affordable units; that includes a unit for the super, since 297 were in the housing lottery.)

It would be impossible to meet that 876-unit gap just with the B5 tower, the first over the Vanderbilt Yard, which was once supposed to contain 650 units. Permits for B5 have been filed, but it hasn't yet proceeded, likely because construction is connected to plans for the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard.

So another tower, likely B6, would have to start in the next few years to meet that gap--unless developer Greenland Forest City Partners can get an extension on the deadline and/or is willing to pay fines of $2,000/month per delayed unit.

The affordability levels

Note that there are two options for 30% affordability under the Affordable New York Plan, with the first including twice as many middle-income as low-income units and the second all middle-income units.

(Note that it's possible that another tax-incentive/subsidy plan may be used, so those two options are not the only one.)

Remember Area Median Income, 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;
Here are the current income limits, by household size, as per my annotation:

Here are rent levels, by unit size, as per my annotation:

How much space for housing?

Maximum building heights
and square footages, before
 10,000 square feet added to B12
As I reported last November, each of the two new towers should contain about 327,000 square feet of residential and ground-level retail space. (That includes 10,000 square feet transferred to B12 beyond the initial approval.)

The far larger amount of zoning square feet disclosed in a building permit, said Tobi Jaiyesimi of Empire State Development at the time, reflects parking, back-of-house space, mechanicals, and more.

But that's still quite confusing, at least not compared to the filings for other buildings in the project.

Consider that B12 and B13, according to the building permit, are supposed to occupy 743,380 square feet of residential space, as shown in the excerpt at right, If so, that's 931.6 square feet per unit.

But if they occupy only 654,400 square feet, that's 820 square feet per unit.

It seems to me that the filings indicate either a departure from the way previous buildings were presented in their permits--or a stealth increase in square footage.

The other buildings are different

The B14 tower, 535 Carlton, was approved at 283,971 square feet. The permit cited 274,408 residential square feet and 9,650 commercial square feet, for a total of 283,968 square feet,
pretty much the maximum.

The B11 tower, 550 Vanderbilt, was approved at 330,778 square feet, and the permit cited 326,047 residential square feet and 4,731 commercial square feet, totaling exactly the approved maximum.

The B3 tower, 38 Sixth, was approved at 343,632 square feet, and the permit cited 290,033 residential square feet, 5,821 commercial square feet, and 23,754 square feet for a community facility (a medical clinic), totaling 319,608 square feet. (That's less than the maximum.)

The B15 tower, 662-4 Pacific (or 37 Sixth) was approved at 341,910 sf, and the permit cited 271,455 residential square feet and 99,334 square feet for a community facility (school), totaling 370,789 square feet. (That's more than the maximum.)

The B4 tower, 18 Sixth, was approved at 824,629 square feet, and the permit cited 781,052 residential square feet and 51,396 square feet of commercial space, totaling 808,695 square feet. (That's less than the maximum.)

None of the buildings have such a discrepancy between maximum square footage approved by the state and planned square footage in the building permit.


  1. 1356 a month, yeah I dont see how that is affordable for lowincome, also is the 55, 760 a year the cut off, are the beginning salary?


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