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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)

Might the B12/B13 sites have only 25% affordable housing, as Greenland rep suggests? We've already been told plans for 30%. That means middle-income units, most likely.

This is the ninth of ten articles on the 6/7/22 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. The first concerned the affordable housing timetable. The second assessed an estimated 2031 completion date. The third addressed the impact of a potential Greenland default. The fourth concerned expectations of 421-a benefits. The fifth concerned the deadline for the Urban Room. The sixth addressed timing for the school. The seventh concerned plans for the platform. The eighth discussed community impacts of construction. The tenth concerned the Open Meetings Law.

Scott Solish of Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of master developer Greenland Forest City Partners, updated the directors on construction progress.

The B12 and B13 sites, aka 615 Dean St. and 595 Dean St., are being developed by TF Cornerstone, which bought development leases from Greenland Forest City Partners, the master developer, which is dominated by Greenland USA.

The towers, said Solish, have topped out; TF Cornerstone is installing windows and working on the residential fit-out of these spaces, with completion expected in the Spring of 2023.

"So this will be another approximately 800 apartments, with an affordable component as well as the completion of the open space on Block 1129," he said, referring to the project's southeast block, which already contains the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton and the condo building 550 Vanderbilt.

"So, once these are completed, we'll also lead to the completion of the first complete 2.3 acre-ish amount of open space spanning Block 1129 between Dean and Pacific streets stretching from Vanderbilt to Carlton," he said. 

(Of course the project's full open space depends on construction of a deck over second block of the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard.)


How much affordable?

Director Tamara McCaw asked, "You said there was an affordable component. Can you let us know the percentage...? I'm trying to keep track." 

(It was another example of a basic question about the project--from a generally uninformed director--that yielded something illuminating, as with the claim that the project might be finished by 2031.)

Solish responded, "Yeah, it's somewhere between 25 and 30% of the total units will be affordable."

Director Gib Veconi, the AY CDC's best-informed (and pretty much only informed) member, interjected, noting Solish's reference to a range between 25% to 30%.

"Does that mean they have not yet elected which option of Affordable New York they're going to take?" Veconi asked. That refers to the 421-a tax break, which has options for 25% affordability, including a majority of low-income units, and 30% affordability, in two scenarios: one with 10% low-income units, and one with only middle-income units.

From Comptroller Brad Lander's report

Clearly, the latter option, Option C, is more lucrative, given higher rents for households at 130% of Area Median Income, or AMI. 

So that's why the two most recent buildings to open, 662 Pacific St. (B15) and 18 Sixth Ave. (B4), contain 30% affordable units under Option C, aimed at middle-income renters. 

And delivering 30% of the apartments as affordable, as opposed to 25%, means that Greenland Forest City gets closer to the required 2,250 affordable units.

Fuzzy memories

"I don't want to speak for the TF Cornerstone team but I believe that's the case," Solish said. " So they weren't able to join this afternoon. But I will certainly share that question with them and we'll get the directors an answer from the TF [Cornerstone] development team."

Except the number has already been provided by Empire State Development (ESD), which the AY CDC is supposed to advise.

As I wrote 7/18/20, nearly two years ago, the  B12 and B13 Dean) towers, with 798 apartments total, will have 240 affordable units (30%), according to information shared by ESD, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, with the AY CDC itself.

Maybe they could've taken a pause to remember that.

But Solish's strategic befuddlement obscured the likelihood that all the units will be for middle-income renters.

Timing issues

Director Drew Gabriel asked when TF Cornerstone would need to make the decision

"I had the same question," added Director Daniel Kummer, who was Acting Chair for the meeting.

Solish said he thought it was before the housing lottery process starts.

"Well, maybe when they give an update, they can provide that information," Kummer said.

"Yeah, I'll include that as well," Solish said.