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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)

In Prospect Heights, new senior housing planned at least one city-owned site; what happened to 225 senior units once intended for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?

More than two years ago, I wrote The "affordable housing crisis for seniors" and the vague plans for 225 senior units at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

There are still no plans for such senior housing at the project, despite 2005-era promises. 

But the city has new plans for at least 80 units of affordable senior housing nearby on an underutilized city-owned site in Prospect Heights, 542 Dean Street, and unspecified plans for "another population in need" at a similar city-owned site, 516 Bergen Street.

While such affordable housing is welcomed by neighbors, if not necessarily at that scale, some neighbors are concerned such plans--which involve doubling the allowable square footage--set a precedent for upzoning other parcels near the larger, still unfinished project.

An online public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:30 pm to kick off the plans for the two sites. I'll write separately about the complicated issue of context, but first want to remind readers about the unfulfilled promise of senior housing.

A huge need

In July 2017, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced record milestones for affordable housing, the city press release said, "With 4,627 affordable senior apartments financed under HNY [Housing New York], the City is nearly a third of the way towards its goal of creating 15,000 homes for seniors, many of who are living on fixed incomes."

At the time a pending proposal, from outside advocates, was to build 15,000 units of senior housing on city-owned land, including the New York City Housing Authority. Indeed, on 10/31/17, de Blasio declared progress, announcing a new program "Seniors First," "serving 30,000 senior households by 2026":
The number of seniors in New York is projected to grow 40 percent by 2040. To meet the housing needs of older New Yorkers on fixed incomes, the City will invest $150 million to make more homes accessible to seniors and people with disabilities; build new 100 percent affordable developments on underused NYCHA, and public and private sites; and preserve aging senior housing built as part of HUD’s 202 program.
So the plans for Prospect Heights involve such new 100% affordable developments. Here's the current page for Seniors First.

What about Atlantic Yards?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was supposed to be part of the progress, too, as I wrote in 2017.

The May 2005 Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding  developer Forest City Ratner signed with the advocacy group ACORN did mention "including senior citizens" (see excerpt above), but didn't specify the number of units.

The mayoral press release at the time made a glancing mention:
As with all City-sponsored housing, there will be a lottery for the affordable units. In the lottery, 50% of the units will be set aside for community residents. In this case, the developer is also considering setting aside 10% percent of the affordable rental units for income-eligible senior citizens.
(Emphases added)

That phrasing left some wiggle room. But 10% would mean 225 apartments.

The June 2005 Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that Forest City signed with eight community groups (including ACORN) seemed more definitive, though it of course left wiggle room:
The Project Developer intends to provide for ten (10%) percent of rental units at the Project to be available to senior citizens. The Project Developer may elect to include these units in one or more buildings as it deems appropriate taking into consideration the special needs of such residents.
No such units have been built yet. It would be a plausible strategy to concentrate the units in one or more buildings, given the need to target services and/or design.

No plan, no sanctions

But there's no requirement to build those units, and master developer Greenland Forest City Partners, dominated by Greenland USA, hasn't said anything.

The guiding document, the 2010 Development Agreement, on page 21, defines "Project site affordable housing" as no less than 2,250 "affordable housing units," which are defined as units with income and rent restrictions set by city, state, or federal housing agencies. That leaves a broad ambit, and does not require senior units.

So, will Atlantic Yards senior housing ever be built? Maybe, but it likely requires a specific suite of subsidies and some political muscle. 

Meanwhile, the need increases, as does the pressure to meet that need by upzoning existing sites.


  1. Dam shame, when you become a senior, it's like people are saying are you dead yet, we all need affordable housing, seniors and all, SMH


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