As Prices Soar in Bed Stuy, Borough President Calls for 50-30-20 Housing and Rezoning

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for 50-30-20 buildings or senior housing along an upzoned Broadway running from Williamsburg to East New York, where 30 percent of the apartments would be aimed at the middle class, at a Corcoran-sponsored event, “Future Opportunities in the New Bedford Stuyvesant,” held at a Bed Stuy church Saturday morning.

“We need housing for middle class people in Brooklyn,” he said. “That 30 percent is the anchor of the community.” He gave an example of a program that enables police officers to purchase houses in Brooklyn and said it has helped stabilize neighborhoods because drug dealers stop dealing on blocks where the officers live.

“We can be creative in our upzoning,” he continued. “Broadway can be upzoned without destroying inner communities,” he said, referring to the upzoning of 4th Avenue as a good example to emulate. In exchange for upzoning on 4th Avenue, height limits on interior blocks were preserved — although not the blocks that touch 4th Avenue — and most of buildings on 4th Avenue are market rate. “I’m an investor over there,” he said, meaning Broadway, “because I know that area is going to change and be a place of beauty.”

Adams first floated the idea of upzoning to 10 stories on Broadway in exchange for 50-30-20 buildings in a memo about The Henry Apartments affordable housing development on Decatur and Broadway in Ocean Hill in May.

Adams also called for bank fines for misdeeds leading to the fiscal crisis to be earmarked for affordable housing and tenant protection. Churches should sell unused lands and air rights for affordable and senior housing, he said, and his team is mapping those potential development sites.

Several hundred people attended the event Saturday morning at Nazarene Congregational Church at MacDonough and Patchen. (Above, Corcoran agent Al Florant speaks.) Author and professor Lance Freeman gave an overview of the gentrification process, and panelists spoke of the need for community service and to support small business.

As the event was wrapping up, a young man in the back of the auditorium shouted out criticism of the event for being profit oriented and sponsored by Corcoran, but he was quickly ejected. Outside, he carried a sign that said “Community, Not Capital,” and spoke with attendees. A six-year-resident of Bed Stuy, he said he plans to hold protests outside “Brokeland Capital’s” headquarters on Malcolm X through the summer. “In 10 years, Bed Stuy is going to be just like Park Slope,” he said.

In the part of Bed Stuy where the event took place, housing prices have doubled in two years, from about $600,000 to about $1,200,000 for a renovated house with details.

Closing Bell: Dueling Panels on Gentrification and Real Estate in Brooklyn [Brownstoner]

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14 Comment

  • Go Eric Adams! This is a great idea to up-zone an underutilized area with good transportation. Most of Broadway is dumpy one-story retail and vacant lots and it has a decent (if not great) train line running overhead. I hope he takes his rezoning all the way out to Broadway Junction which has amazing transportation (A,C, J, L, LIRR) and is in desperate need of redevelopment.

  • they should also add income limits for rent stabilized housing and eliminate the ability of rent regulated tenants owning second homes.

    • By definition, new housing that comes under rent stabilization is subject to income limits — your application is thrown out unless you meet whichever test is applied.

      And why does it matter if they own a second home outside the city as long as that is not their primary residence? Shouldn’t a tenant be allowed to invest $80,000 into a rental property condo in Puerto Rico and earn a some rental income and maybe appreciation on capital?

      • Not if they want to keep being subsidized by all the other renters in this city.

        • it matters because if we truly have an affordable housing crisis, then we need to support people who are struggling to afford a home. Not subsidize those who own a second home or manage investment properties! the current rules are a joke and they undermine affordable housing.

          further, they should add income limitations to existing rent stabilized units, not just new 80/20 buildings.

        • Can’t disagree more. Rent stabilization is a tool to encourage neighborhood stability by permitting prior residents to significantly mitigate the risk of market gyrations under the theory that long term residents create social goods in terms of community structures to promote democratic involvement in local issues. If mere affordability were the issue, cities could more economically just ship out everyone to the suburbs with vouchers. Neighborhoods with constant turnover (e.g., neighborhoods near colleges that are commonly used as student housing) lack that feature and instead require other social institutions (like campus-organized or university controlled groups) to intermediate.

          Also, I think what you want to say is “Not if they impose externalities (aka higher rents) on non-RS tenants.” (which itself is not clearly proven given rent experiences in other cities — although I don’t believe those would be comparable to NYC). No economist would say that other _renters_ subsidize the RS tenants. Non-RS tenants’ rent dollars do not go to the RS tenants and rarely go even to the same landlords. The only “subsidy” is in the sense that _landlords_ for RS units essentially have caps on ROR.

          • Agree on the part that the prices are high in Manhattan/BK/Etc due to lack of space in and around the island and adjacent areas of NYC metro, global demand, the reurbanization of the economy which is somewhat unique compared to other cities.

            RS rents that have their max legal rent are absolutely subsidized by other renters since costs are cash expenses and that cash needs to come from somewhere. Dollars are finite and the 80/20 rule is a perfect example. NYC is way underfunded on repairing and maintaining infrastructure (including many buildings in the boroughs) and any building filled with people paying rental rates that made sense 30 years ago continues to degrade the funding needed to and hurts valuation which relates to property taxes driven by NOI assessments by the city and make up almost half of the City’s tax revenue.

            RS lets people stay in areas but doesnt necessarily require them to add value to that area, so the college comparison is a bit extreme relative to most neighborhoods since turnover isnt that high in a regular hood and long-term tenants can be active in the community but doesnt mean they should pay 20% of what someone else pays in the same building and get the same services. Its public policy at the cost of private citizens; the burden (financial or othewise) to support a community should be on everyone in it. Giving middle class citizens oportunities to live and work in their communities (police, fire, etc) is what RS should be going after and match the math for cost of living to reality instead of the political circus it is currently and everyone would be much better off.

  • Also a great idea to encourage police officers to buy homes in the community. Too many on the force now live in remote suburban communities and thus have no stake in the areas they work or ability to distinguish the true bad guys from the good. Not much bad happens on an urban block where a cop or two lives, which was my personal experience growing up in ENY.