2134-dean-street-102014

Hundreds of Brooklyn religious leaders attended a recent meeting sponsored by Borough President Eric Adams about how faith-based organizations can earn money and develop their properties by selling air and land rights to developers, according to a story in DNAinfo. It’s an idea that resonated with many of the borough’s religious leaders as they face declining congregations, fundraising challenges and budgetary pressures while working to expand social services to meet the needs of those left behind in the recession.

“You are land-rich but cash-poor. The largest amount of housing potential in Brooklyn lies with you,” Pastor Gilford Monrose, director of the Borough President’s faith-based initiatives, told attendees.

Since many churches own historic buildings and have parking lots and other properties, developers are often interested in the properties. Deacon Dennis Mathis of Glover Memorial Baptist Church at 2134 Dean Street in Crown Heights (pictured above) said he wants to develop affordable housing on a church-owned parking lot and use the proceeds to expand its social services. “Any profit made from the deal will go toward expanding our soup kitchen and food pantry and might allow us to add after-school programs for youth,” he told DNAinfo. Developers have offered between $200,000 and $300,000 for the lot, he said.

A reverend at another Crown Heights church, Brooklyn Christian Center Church at 1061 Atlantic Avenue, said the church has a development plan in the works and came to the conference to learn how how to keep control of the property. Also discussed at the conference was how churches can work with city agencies to develop affordable housing.

Throughout the borough, churches have been demolished for new buildings and in some cases converted to condos. At least a dozen such projects are in the works now.

Adams has previously said he believes developing church property can help increase affordable housing in the borough. Do you agree?

Dozens of Brooklyn Churches Looking to Sell Their Land [DNA]
Church Conversion Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

1133 Manhattan Ave3

When we stopped by the mixed income building at 1133 Manhattan Avenue at the far northern tip of Greenpoint, the building looked like it was nearing completion. Through the windows we could see workers sanding joint compound off the seams in the drywall — a sign that the interiors are getting close. The ground floor retail space looked like it had much further to go. The spaces are open to the elements and not built out yet.

The website for the building says that units will be available fall 2014, or about now.

The building has attracted a lot of attention in part because of incredible demand for the income-restricted units throughout the city. Nearly 60,000 people applied for the 105 below-market rate units here. The $67,000,000 building will have another 105 market-rate units as well as 20,000 square feet of retail and commercial space when it’s completed.

The building, which replaced a low-slung brick warehouse, was designed by architect firm Perkins Eastman. Click through for a photo of the unfinished street level retail space.

Windows Going in at 50-50 Building on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint [Brownstoner]
Look of Greenpoint Build on Manhattan Avenue Revealed [Brownstoner] GMAP
(more…)

8 Vanderbilt

Construction is moving along in the next phase of the massive Navy Green mixed income housing development. It looks like five or six stories out of 12 have gone up so far at this condo building at 8 Vanderbilt Avenue at the corner of Flushing Avenue. It will have 98 income-restricted and market rate condominium units available. The bulk of the units, 74 of them, will be sold at prices affordable to moderate and middle income households. The rest, 24, will be sold at market rates. It will also have 1,600 square feet of retail space facing Flushing Avenue. Next to the building on Vanderbilt, 23 market rate townhouses are planned as well.

The Navy Green development is a block-sized mixed income residential (both rental and condo) and retail complex that has been in the works for over a decade and has cost over $85,200,000 in city and state funds. The first tenants moved into their income-restricted rental units at 45 Clermont Avenue in December of 2012. The project takes up the entire block between Park Avenue and Flushing Avenue Clermont Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue. When it’s complete, Navy Green will have 400,000 square feet of residential space.

Navy Green Developers File Permits for Townhouses Near Navy Yard [Brownstoner]
City, Developers Cut Ribbon at Navy Green Development in Ft. Greene
[Brownstoner]
Developers Receive an Award for Navy Green Project [Brownstoner] GMAP

Sunset Park 47th Street

This Saturday the Sunset Parks Landmarks Committee is hosting a party to raise money for its preservation work and for the tenant advocacy organization Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The $20 admission ticket will help both these worthy causes and it includes two drinks, light food, live music, a dance performance and prizes made in Industry City. The proceeds will be split equally between the groups.

In an email, Lynn Massimo, the committee’s project manager, said that both preservation and affordable housing are important to the future of the neighborhood. “Together we, the community groups and our electeds, must keep Sunset Park viable for a diverse population. That doesn’t have just one answer. It has multiple answers. Affordable housing, safe streets, cultural diversity, economic diversity, local jobs, and yes, preservation of historic rowhouses,” she said.

The event will be held at Irish Haven at 5721 4th Avenue at 58th Street this Saturday, October 18, from 7 to 10 pm. Tickets are only available at the door.

Photo by Sunset Park Landmarks Committee

domino-rendering-2013-112613

A meeting Monday about how to apply for affordable housing at the forthcoming Domino development in Williamsburg attracted hundreds of people. Construction is slated to start this year on the first building in the complex, on Site E on Kent Avenue between South 3rd and 4th streets, DNAinfo reported. (The building is the smaller building in the rear, pictured above, where a temporary park is now located.) The 500-unit building will offer 105 affordable units. The lottery process will start in late 2016, and move-ins will start in spring 2017.

Rents will start at $533 to $703 a month for a studio, depending on income, said Two Trees at the briefing. The units will have the same finishes as the market-rate apartments in the luxury complex, said Two Trees. One-bedrooms will range in rent between $595 and $765 a month, and two-bedrooms will lease for $723 to $916 a month.

People who already live in Community Board 1 will have priority. Individuals making 40 percent to 50 percent of the area median income — or $20,100 to $30,100 — qualify for a studio. Altogether the entire Domino development will offer 700 affordable units.

First Affordable Apartments at Domino Site to Rent for $553 Per Month [DNA]
Rendering by SHoP Architects

camba-gardens-flatbush-100314

We were alarmed to read the city plans to all but eliminate design and architecture review for affordable housing, and to allow affordable housing developers to self-certify, according to a story in Capital New York. Believe it or not, some of the most beautiful new buildings in Brooklyn are found in areas such as Bed Stuy, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and East New York, and it’s all affordable housing. We’ve long wondered why that is and now we think we know. We point to award-winning buildings such as the Saratoga Community Center at 940 Hancock Street and Camba Gardens in Flatbush, above, designed by Harden + Van Arnam Architects.

So expect affordable housing to start looking like the cheapest schlock imaginable — probably not even as good as the dreck that usually gets built in Williamsburg, probably more like cement-block Fedders buildings.

Also, we’ve seen a lot of abuses of the self-certification process for much smaller scale, private developments. If they are flagrant enough, they are eventually punished (architect Robert Scarano and the overbuilt monstrosity at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest by architect Shlomo Wygoda are two examples), but we suspect that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So we’re skeptical this is a good approach to take with affordable housing, where the pressure to cut costs is likely to be even greater and the beneficiaries less able to defend their interests.

We think it’s going to be a great loss for these neighborhoods, not to mention the residents. What do you think the mayor should do?

H.P.D. Plans Major Changes to Jump-Start Affordable Housing Development [Capital NY]
Rendering by Harden + Van Arnam Architects PLLC

805-east-new-york-ave-affordable

The mayor’s affordable housing and rezoning plan seems to be causing real estate speculation, which could make the plan difficult to carry out. Land prices for development properties in East New York have nearly tripled in one year, from $32 a square foot to $93 a square foot, reported The Wall Street Journal. (Though a careful look at the Journal’s accompanying graphic seems to show an unexplained spike in 2011.) The sample size was very small, as both the Journal and Gothamist pointed out, but affordable housing developers said land is already too expensive for them. Even if affordable housing is built, it could have unintended consequences, according to the story.

“The de Blasio administration wants to create significant new development in East New York but without price increases that push out existing residents. That could be hard to do. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen 10% to more than $1,200 a month from $1,082 a month in 2012, according to Nancy Packes, a development consultant.”

Higher Land Prices Test Affordable-Housing Plan [WSJ]
City’s East New York Study Included Only Five Properties [Gothamist]

broadway-junction-station-092414

The area around the massive Broadway Junction transit hub in East New York is desolate and dangerous. For the neighborhood to flourish, it needs more people on the street, according to yet another report on the area calling for its redevelopment.

Specific recommendations include:

*Create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
*Close some roads.
*Consolidate land ownership.
*Repurpose the empty Long Island Rail Road substation into manufacturing and office space for “creative” companies a la Industry City in Sunset Park.
*Spur mixed-use development.

Redevelopment of the area would help the de Blasio administration meet its affordable housing goals, according to the report. Crain’s was the first to write about the report and its recommendations.

The document was authored by Urban Land Institute New York, a chapter of a D.C. think tank, and sponsored by the New York City Department of City Planning. The report stemmed from ULINY panels held over the summer.

Do you think this will work? And if it does work, who will benefit?

Broadway Junction Report [ULINY]
Dismal Bronx, Brooklyn Areas Have Potential [Crain's]

kedem-rendering-090514

Here is a rendering of what could go up at the long-stalled Kedem winery site in south Williamsburg, if Eliot Spitzer (or anyone else) buys it and starts construction before the old permits expire in June 2016. (For those who have not been following, Spitzer’s real estate firm is reportedly close to inking a deal to purchase the property.)

This is a very old rendering, which a tipster found and sent to us. It was published way back in 2006 by the Yiddish newspaper Vos Iz Neiaas, or What’s News. As far as we can see, no one else ever published it.

But although the rendering is old, anyone who buys this site at 420-430 Kent Avenue has a motive to go forward with this design, since the City Planning Commission granted it a zoning waiver for denser and taller construction than would otherwise be allowed at this spot. The six-lot, 2.8-acre site is on the waterfront south of Broadway and not far from the Domino development. (more…)

331 saratoga avenue ocean hill rendering 82014

We found this rendering for a five-story affordable housing development on the fence at 331 Saratoga Avenue between Bergen and Dean Streets in Ocean Hill. SLCE is designing the building, which will have 80 units, 40 bike storage spots and 15 off-street parking spaces, as previously reported.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has owned the lot for 40 years, but Dunn Development is the developer. Half the units will be reserved for families living below the poverty line, and the complex will be called Bergen Saratoga Apartments. Construction signage predicts it will be finished in October 2015.

When we looked behind the fence, we saw excavation and foundation work under way. Click through to see the progress. What do you think of the design?

SLCE to Design Five Stories of Affordable Housing on Vacant Lot in Ocean Hill [Brownstoner] GMAP

(more…)

54 Boerum

Residents of the Lindsay Park Housing Cooperative in Williamsburg are petitioning to change the practices of the board of directors at one of the city’s largest middle-income housing co-ops according to a report by DNAinfo. They accuse the board of rigging elections, mismanagement and harassment. The petitioners, including the  Community Board 1 chairwoman, say the flawed election process has kept the board president in power for a dozen years. (more…)

1133_Manhattan_Ave

Nearly 60,000 people have applied for the 105 affordable units that will be available at 1133 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint according to the Daily News. The 58,832 applications for the building was the highest number for any affordable housing project in the city. When completed, likely in the fall according to the developers website, the building will be half market rate rentals and half income-restricted. The income caps range from a single person earning $18,618 to qualify for a studio to, at the high end, a family of four with a combined income of $146,825 for a two bedroom apartment. (more…)