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

Proposed 1045 Atlantic Ave. advances, with a trim to 145 feet. BP public hearing Wednesday. Affordable housing at 80% of AMI. Upzoning worth $60+ million?

So, when I wrote 6/28/21 about plans for the proposed 17-story, 175-foot 1045 Atlantic Avenue tower near Franklin Avenue, I neglected to check for an upcoming Community Board 3 hearing to advance an effort to change low-rise manufacturing zoning to far more lucrative residential zoning.

From Environmental Assessment Statement:
version proposed at 175 feet tall
And it turns out that project is moving along quickly, able to accelerate in the city's land-use review--and get to the City Council, with a favorable local Council Member, Robert Cornegy--before the end of the year, rather than roll over to a new Council.

Plans For All-Electric Apartment Tower In Bed-Stuy OK'd By Board, Patch reported 6/29/21, informing us that this was "according to developers."

The publications didn't have a reporter watching the online hearing, but rather relied on a press release from the developer, via the p.r. firm BerlinRosen, pasted in below.

Note that the vote is advisory, as is the upcoming recommendation from Borough President Eric Adams.

Adams’ office will offer a public hearing Wednesday, July 7, in the next stage of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (aka ULURP).

A reduction in height and bulk

One important change to the project, revealed cryptically in the press release (and ignored in the other coverage), is that CB 3's Land Use Committee "voted unanimously to approve the project with the recommendation of a zoning change to R8A versus the proposed R9A zone change."

That's a cut in height and bulk. R9A means a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 8.5 and a height of 175 feet, R8A means an FAR of 7.2 and a height of 145 feet, so likely 14 stories. Either represents a significant increase from manufacturing zoning limited to one floor. (Floor Area Ratio is the relationship of bulk to the underlying lot.)

Public benefits and private gain

The developers announced: 
The proposal aims to bring first-of-its-kind green efforts and benefits to Bedford-Stuyvesant along with much-needed new housing and a Community Benefits Fund. 1045 Atlantic is being developed by Totem, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm that specializes in community-driven projects, in partnership with Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and St. Nicks Alliance.
There will be 126 units of affordable housing (of 420 total), an all-electric building, bike parking from Oonee, and even an annual $50,000 contribution to a fund at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, which will be distributed to local community-based organizations, in partnership with Bed-Stuy Restoration.

That seeming generosity is possible, thanks to a rezoning that increases the value of the property enormously.

Let’s try some rough math. The underlying parcel to be rezoned is 44,114 square feet. An FAR of 7.2 allows 317,621 square feet. (Given underground and other space, the building would be larger.) 

With new development in Bedford-Stuyvesant valued at $193 per buildable square foot, as per TerraCRG's 2020 Brooklyn Market Report, that suggests the upzoning could be worth $61.3 million.

Sure, that number might be discounted given the provision of affordable units and other touted benefits, plus other factors. And more authoritative bodies--I've proposed the NYC Independent Budget Office--should be making such assessments. But it still suggests a huge upside, as the underlying parcels cost about $25 million.

(Note that an FAR of 8.5 would deliver 374,969 square feet. If the unit count isn't shrinking, perhaps some of the full-floor retail or office space originally planned would shrink.)

Affodable housing at 80% of AMI 

The building would have 30% affordability--126 out of 420 units--"targeted toward low- and middle-income families with AMIs [Area Median Income] ranging from 40-100%, which is between $42,960 and $107,400 for a family of three," according to the press release.

While the average income for affordable units is unspecified, the percentage conforms with Option 2 of the city's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which sets an average of 80% of AMI, which means $85,920 for a three-person household. (Option 4, the so-called "Workforce" option, has 30 percent at or below 115% of AMI.)

At least according to the project's Environmental Assessment Statement, which estimates the range of incomes needed for the market-rate units, the average income for those units, blended among unit sizes, would be $90,420, well below the "affordable" ceiling of $107,400 and barely 5% over the "affordable" average. (I'd bet that the document low-balls the incomes, and rent levels, for the market-rate units.)

Below, I've annotated a chart from the EAS, which analyzed the "Workforce" option for the affordable units, adding a new line for affordable units averaging 80% of Area Median Income. (I haven't added the proposed average, but it would be $89,070, at least based on the questionable market-rate assumptions.)
The press release notes that, "[f]ollowing community discussion and engagement," the project will omit studio apartments and include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all permanently affordable, which "will help ensure that long-term residents can continue to reside in the community." (It's not clear whether that refers only to the affordable units. I'll update when I know more.)

That depends on which long-term residents, of course, since many of the neediest in Community District 3 would be ineligible. Typically, half the affordable units are reserved for those in the district.

According to the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS), the median household income—the midpoint—in the half-mile study area around the project site rose from $52,004 to $75,511 from 2010 to 2018, while the average rose even more, from $68,288 to $99,433, both well-outpacing Brooklyn at large. Already 37% of the households in the study area earn more than $100,000. (The study area includes brownstone blocks.)

However, in Community District 3 at large, the median income is somewhat lower. According to CensusReporter.org, the CD 3 median household income is $61,186, with an average household size of 2.52. That extrapolates to $72,840 for three people.

However, CensusReporter.org notes that 43.5% of households in CD 3 earn less than $50,000 a year, which suggests that those in that cohort would be competing for only a fraction of the available affordable housing units at 1045 Atlantic.

Who's the developer?

Note that YIMBY referred to Totem as "the primary development firm responsible for the project," while the press release says "1045 Atlantic is being developed by Totem, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm that specializes in community-driven projects." 

Community-driven? Well, there are community partners. And there are outside investors, who presumably control some share of the project. (I'll update when I know more.)

As I reported, the signatory on the limited liability companies that bought the underlying land and the development entity Atlantic Brooklyn LLC, based in Port Washington, NY, is Bert E. Brodsky, whose firm BEB Capital has invested in various real estate projects in Manhattan, Long Island, and around the country.

It's not uncommon--see the 840 Atlantic example--to have multiple investors in a project. 

The entity behind 1045 Atlantic, Atlantic Brooklyn LLC, has since 2019 retained lawyer Eric Palatnik to lobby for the project. The address listed is the same as for BEB Capital, and the client is Lee Brodsky, BEB Capital's CEO.

Last October, Reed contributed $250 to Council candidacy of Henry Butler, District Manager of Community District 3, who's been described as Cornegy’s “most obvious political heir.” As of now, before absentee votes have been counted, Butler trails the more left-leaning Chi Ossé, 7,634 to 10,409 votes, in the Democratic primary election.

The press release

Community Board Unanimously Approves New Electric-Powered Housing Planned for Bedford-Stuyvesant
The building will deliver approximately 420 units, 126 of which are affordable, to help tackle the housing crisis in the community.
The development will strive to be the first fully electric building for the area reducing the risk of energy blackout and brownouts.
1045 Atlantic will launch a new tenant-led community impact fund to provide local grants to the surrounding area.


Image credit: TOTEM/dencityworks

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn – A proposed development that would bring approximately 126 units of affordable housing to 1045 Atlantic Avenue continued through the City’s Land Use process with unanimous approval from Brooklyn’s Community Board 3 on Monday evening. The proposal aims to bring first-of-its-kind green efforts and benefits to Bedford-Stuyvesant along with much-needed new housing and a Community Benefits Fund. 1045 Atlantic is being developed by Totem, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm that specializes in community-driven projects, in partnership with Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and St. Nicks Alliance.

Following a presentation by developers and experts working with the project at a Brooklyn Community Board 3 public hearing, the Land Use Committee met and voted unanimously to approve the project with the recommendation of a zoning change to R8A versus the proposed R9A zone change. The project will now be presented for a vote at Borough President Adams’ public ULURP hearing on July 7.

“We are thrilled by the Community Board’s unanimous approval after more than a year of engagement, collaboration and discussion with area residents and leaders,” said Tucker Reed, Co-Founder, and Principal at Totem. “As we move through the rest of the ULURP process, we will continue working with the Community Board to deliver a development we can all be proud of; one that provides housing, pedestrian accessibility and safety, green design, and jobs.”

“As Brooklynites, we care deeply about the borough and believe in the power of building to create lasting benefits for the people who live here,” said Vivian Liao, Co-Founder and Principal of Totem. “As such, we strive to build intentional developments, focused on increasing affordable housing and creating jobs and opportunity for the community. We are also particularly proud of the cutting-edge innovations we have proposed to make 1045 Atlantic one of the greenest developments in Bed-Stuy.”

To counter the City’s regular brownouts and planned outages in Black and Brown communities and ensure equitable access to quality and reliable energy, 1045 Atlantic aims to be the first fully-electric building in the larger Bedford-Stuyvesant community by incorporating state-of-the-art microgrid battery technology that feeds energy back into the local grid. The system will be managed by MGN, a local business with a long history in renewable energy and resilient systems. The building also features sustainable wood cladding in the façade, green roofs, and rainwater catchment systems and will obtain the National Green Building standard for sustainability. The building will also seek to define the new street level character of Atlantic by featuring local small retailers and providing a publicly-accessible bike parking hub powered by Oonee, which was founded by a Central Brooklyn entrepreneur.

“After being an integral part of this community for over 50 years, we have seen how thoughtful and community-focused developments, such as 1045 Atlantic, can benefit our neighbors in creating much-needed workforce housing,” said Colvin Grannum, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “Central Brooklyn is continuing to emerge as a thriving hub for job creation, housing opportunity, and general economic development, and we are confident that in working with this project, we can build on that progress to help preserve the presence of low- and moderate-income households in Bedford-Stuyvesant.”

“As the developer’s affordable housing, hiring, and community partner for this project at 1045 Atlantic, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring good jobs back to this community,” said Frank Lang, Director of Housing at St. Nicks Alliance. “St. Nicks is committed to ensuring that the benefits this project will bring to the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods, including much-needed affordable housing and jobs, should and will be enjoyed by the local community members in the neighborhood.”

"The lack of secure parking is one of the leading barriers to the adoption of sustainable transportation alternatives like bicycles and scooters. This is especially true in working-class communities of color, where folks are less likely to have access to parking and can ill-afford to lose a bike to theft,” said Shabazz Stuart, Co-Founder and CEO of Oonee. “We are delighted to partner with Totem to bring more than one hundred public secure parking spaces to 1045 Atlantic Avenue. Located only a few minutes from the busy Franklin Avenue Subway Station, this new Oonee Hub will also provide the community with new intermodal transit options that did not exist previously."

In addition to the several green initiatives incorporated into the project, 1045 Atlantic features approximately 420 apartments, of which 126 will be affordable targeted toward low- and middle-income families with AMIs ranging from 40-100%, which is between $42,960 and $107,400 for a family of three. Following community discussion and engagement, the development announced there will be no studio apartments and will only feature one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with ranging AMI levels. The permanently affordable units will help ensure that long-term residents can continue to reside in the community.

Another significant feature of the project is a first-of-its-kind Community Impact Fund, which will be seeded annually with $50,000 by the developer and distributed to local community-based organizations. In partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, an advisory committee made up of residents in the building will be created to decide on priority impact areas, application process, and grant allocations. The fund will be managed by the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

“Through our Donor Advised Fund program, we partner with individuals, families, and businesses across Brooklyn to increase the impact of their local giving using our expert philanthropic advisory and administrative services,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Totem’s Community Impact Fund at Brooklyn Community Foundation is potentially an example-setting partnership for us, that ensures that money coming into the community stays in the community and is used to help better the lives of its residents.”

Learn more about Totem here.

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