Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Is the big news that the Atlantic Ave. Mixed-Use Plan might deliver 4,000 apartments (per press release)? Or that NYC hasn't pushed for more/deeper affordability?

Mayor Adams, DCP Director Garodnick Unveil Plan for new Affordable Housing, Open Space in Central Brooklyn, the Mayor's Office stated in a press release yesterday, adding that "'Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan' [AAMUP] Could Bring 4,000 New Homes to Area, Delivers on Decade of Community Engagement." 

That could include 1,150 to 1,550 below-market apartments--crucially, the affordability levels, which drew criticism at a session the day before, went unmentioned--along and below Atlantic Avenue between Vanderbilt and Nostrand avenues. 

So the city's framing release drove coverage yesterday, such as Atlantic Avenue rezoning to add 4,000 homes, mayor says, from the Real Deal; City aims to remake Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue by adding up to 4,000 homes, from Crain's New York Business; and 4,000 New Units Proposed For Central BK In Atlantic Avenue Plan: Mayor, from Patch.

While the city also aims to enhance Atlantic Avenue, support jobs, and add community investments in parks and more, housing is obviously key.

The bigger issue

But everyone knew that allowing new density, transforming outdated low-rise manufacturing zoning, would deliver new housing, and thus spin off affordable units.

The big question is what would be demanded of landowners and developers, who'd get a huge boost in the value of their property. And the city's reference to the current Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) policy and its unwillingness to push for more affordability in the draft guidelines prompted much criticism during DCP's online session Wednesday night.

While the press release credited "eight months of public engagement on AAMUP conducted by DCP, Councilmember Crystal Hudson, and WXY Studio," it did not quote Hudson, who represents the majority of the area considered for rezoning. The Real Deal suggested that leaves her room to push for changes as the rezoning goes through the city's land-use review process.

After all, as Hudson stated in a message announcing the Community Vision and Priorities report released last week, "residents, business leaders, community leaders, and local nonprofits want more housing (especially deeply affordable housing and protections for longtime tenants at risk of displacement.

Too little affordability?

So reporters who watched unveiling of the zoning guidelines Wednesday could acknowledge that dismay. New NYC Atlantic Avenue development plan sparks criticism over affordability, gentrification, the Daily News reported, while City Limits, despite the generic headline, City Pitches 4K Apartments for Industrial Central Brooklyn Stretch, acknowledged the criticism, against the backdrop of demographic change, as white residents have replaced Black and brown ones.

Among the critics was Community Board 8's Gib Veconi, who led the M-CROWN initiative that preceded the AAMUP, noted that the Department of City Planning contemplates MIH Option 2--see slide above--which means 30% of the units at an average of 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).

Current rents at 80% of AMI max at $2,119 for a one-bedroom and $2,542 for a two-bedroom--though it's possible that landlords would have to aim lower to get the units rented. A two-person household could earn up to $90,400 and a three-person one up to $101,680. Ceilings for both rents and incomes likely will rise by the time buildings are completed.

"So many of those units will not be affordable to the people that we've been trying to reach in Community District 8 to prevent displacement," Veconi said. Members of the Crown Heights Tenant Union, who see landlords pressure rent-stabilized tenants to leave in order to take advantage of the rising market, also lodged criticisms.

"Deeper affordability levels would require citywide reform to MIH," City Limits quoted Sarit Platkin of the Department of Housing and Preservation Development. Fair enough, but the unwillingness to engage with the clear preference for deeper affordability or to use recent spot rezonings as a benchmark is glaring.

After all, if Hudson could negotiate 35% affordable housing, at a blended average of 54% of AMI in two spot rezonings last year along Atlantic Avenue, why couldn't the city demand more--especially when it's contemplating allowing developers the same bulk (C6-3A zoning) those spot rezonings got? 

(The AAMUP report, and process, as I pointed out, scanted discussion of those spot rezonings, with no analysis of the affordability.)

Instead, developers of the new buildings along Atlantic Avenue, at 185 feet or 17-18 stories, could, under the contemplated zoning, offer:
  • Option 1: 25% of the units at an average of 60% of AMI
  • Option 2: 30% of the units at an average of 80% of AMI
  • Option 3: 20% of the units at an average of 40% of AMI
As Veconi observed, landlords would surely take Option 2, which would attract tenants who are hardly at the most risk of displacement.

He also pointed out that CB 8's support for "set asides and incentives for light industrial uses that produce jobs accessible to people without a college education" was not reflected in the proposal, which incentivizes more broadly defined commercial space, which could be hospitality, retail, or office use. Expect pushback on that, as well.

More details

The press release contained laudatory quotes from city officials about the need to build new homes--note the strategic use of the word "homes" rather than "apartments" or "units." 

Since the maximum percentage of affordability under MIH is 30%, and the upper-bound estimate of 1,550 affordable units out of 4,000 total is more than 30%, that estimate likely includes a few 100% affordable buildings that will rise on city-owned (or nonprofit-owned) property outside the rezoning area, such as a building for seniors on Dean Street with 154 units.

The overview, from the press release:
The draft zoning framework proposes a high-density mix of housing and commercial uses with active ground floor uses along Atlantic Avenue. In mid-blocks south of Atlantic Avenue between Grand Avenue and Franklin Avenue, and north of Atlantic Avenue along Herkimer Place, the draft framework proposes a special incentive to promote mixed-use development with one to two floors of non-residential uses. Along the north-south avenues of Grand, Classon, Franklin, and Bedford avenues, the framework proposes moderate density mixed-use districts with higher density along the avenue. 
What's next?

From the press release:
A second community discussion and scoping meeting to kick off environmental review will take place this October. Over the coming months, DCP will continue to partner with local stakeholders and city agencies to hold community outreach meetings, identify additional investments, and prepare a draft environmental impact statement. The AAMUP proposal is expected to be certified and begin the Uniform Land Use Reform Procedure (ULURP) in spring 2024.

More slides from the presentation