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Last night a public hearing on the controversial residential towers to be built on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park drew an overflow crowd and ran more than two hours long. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation needs a modification of the park’s General Project Plan to allow affordable housing in the park and in these particular buildings. Community Board 2 approved the modification earlier this month and this hearing was the next step in the approval process.

“The place was totally full (occupancy limit: 350), with another hundred people outside the hall, listening on speakers,” said Brownstoner commenter Andrew Porter.

The meeting was “boisterous. Thank goodness the air conditioning was fine,” he added. (more…)

Bushwick residents packed a town hall meeting convened by a local community group to push for affordable housing at the massive Rheingold Brewery development in Bushwick. City Council Member Antonio Reynoso called on developer Rabsky to live up to a 2013 promise made by its predecessor, developer Read Property, to include affordable housing.

The former industrial space, which is being redeveloped as apartments and shops, covers about 10 city blocks close to Flushing and Bushwick avenues. However, the protest may be much ado about nothing.

Rabsky already said in June it has every intention of including affordable housing in its developments. The community group, the Rheingold Construction Committee, apparently isn’t buying it.  (more…)

382 Lefferts Avenue

Last week the application period began for 46 affordable units at 382 Lefferts Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. There are five studios, 28 one bedrooms and 13 two bedroom apartments for rent to those who meet the requirements and win placement in the lottery. The availability of the units was first reported by DNAinfo.

Studio apartments will cost $1,909 a month for those earning between $67,406 and $96,800 a year. One-bedrooms are $2,047 a month and two-bedroom units are $2,465 a month for those earning between $86,572 a year and as much as $138,080 a year, depending on the number of people living in the unit. Applications are due by September 22.

This building was a bit of a test case for the city. In the wake of the financial crisis with developments stalled, the city launched its $20,000,000 Housing Asset Renewal Program. The goal was to provide funding to developers who were unable to finish their buildings in exchange for converting their market-rate projects to affordable housing. This building was the first to accept funding from HARP way back in 2011.

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As of Monday, applications are now being taken for 200 affordable units in the first City Point tower, now under construction in Downtown Brooklyn. Brick Underground was the first to notice that the lottery had opened through NYC Housing Connect.

The least expensive units are studios for $500 a month for those earning between $18,515 and $24,200 a year. One-bedroom units range from $538 a month to $2,038 a month depending on income levels.

The most expensive units are two-bedroom units for $2,455 a month for those earning between $85,612 a year and, at the top end, $142,395 a year. City Point’s website has full list of income requirements or it can be viewed as a PDF here.

Half of the units will go to those already residing within Brooklyn’s Community Board 2, and 5 percent will be set aside for municipal employees. Another 5 percent will be set aside for mobility impaired applicants and 2 percent will be set aside for those with visual or hearing impairments.

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Does historic preservation create “special rich people neighborhoods”? Not according to Brownstoner commenter fiordiligi, who shared his experience in Tuesday’s post about preservation and elitism. We thought his comment had an interesting perspective and is worth a closer look:

Homeowners in landmarked neighborhoods are not by definition “rich.” For example, I own a house in a landmarked neighborhood. I bought it in 1988 when there was almost no market for houses in this area despite the fact that it was landmarked. I bought it because after saving up for a down payment for many years, it was what I could afford; because I thought the neighborhood was beautiful; and because it had decent access to public transportation. I wasn’t rich then, and I’m not now — aside from the fact that the building has appreciated considerably. But I certainly never expected it to do so. And the building’s value means little to me at this point aside from the fact that I couldn’t afford to live in NYC if I hadn’t bought it when I did. And I am just as entitled as rich people to enjoy historic architecture — as are my tenants. My mortgage is paid off, and for me, this house IS affordable housing. Besides, the percentage of landmarked areas in NYC is too small to impact affordable housing in any case; and developers’ efforts to blame landmarking for their own greed in failing to build more affordable housing is nothing but laughable. Did they want to build in landmarked areas before rents and condo prices went through the roof? No, they cared nothing about landmarking. But now, suddenly, landmarking is a villain? Give me a break. Preservation of historic architecture is just as important as preservation of historic artwork — and that’s not an elitist statement. Human life is too short not to enable new generations to learn about, and appreciate, the history of architecture.

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After nearly 13 years of planning, one of Brooklyn’s most interesting new towers is finally on the rise. Construction is now up to the third floor at Fort Greene’s 286 Ashland Place, better known as BAM South, where developer Two Trees and architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos are creating a mix of cultural programming, affordable housing, market rate apartments, and landscaped public outdoor space.

In 2008, Two Trees replaced a previous developer and plans for a seven-story building, as readers will recall. The 32-story mixed-use development will bring 384 apartments, 21,000-square-feet of retail, and 45,000 square feet of cultural space. Of the apartments, 77 will be affordable.

A branch of the Brooklyn Public Library will occupy a space at the podium. There will also be elevated public plazas, echoing elements of the previous design from 2002. (more…)

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Residents of the Vendome building at 363 Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill have filed a lawsuit against the city and building owner Azad Ali in an effort to protect a decades-old agreement enabling tenants to purchase their apartments.

Built in 1887, the Vendome is Brooklyn’s oldest multi-family apartment building. Gutted by a fire in 1980, the building was slated for demolition in 1987. The Vendome was landmarked in 1981 — when the Clinton Hill Historic District was established — and community members lobbied to save it.

At the time, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development created a preservation plan for the site, which included keeping the Vendome as an affordable rental building for 15 years, after which tenants would have the ability to buy their units as coops or condos, according to Legal Services NYC — the organization legally representing the Vendome tenants. Tenants claim that the then-landlord signed agreements guaranteeing these terms in exchange for subsidized loans. (more…)

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Left to right: Panelists Fedak, Powell Harris, Lodhi and Brady

Is historic preservation elitist? It depends who you ask. Six experts and a very well informed audience — many of them professional or grassroots preservationists — convened Monday night at the Museum of the City of New York to ponder the question. Here are the answers:

Sometimes. But the bigger problem is it doesn’t help housing.
Even the two pro-development speakers didn’t exactly argue that preservation is elitist. Nikolai Fedak, founder of pro-development website New York YIMBY (it stands for “yes in my backyard”), blamed zoning restrictions for the affordable housing crisis.

The nut of his argument is that if restrictions were eased, and developers could build higher and more densely throughout New York City, we would have enough units to meet demand, and prices would fall.

Nope. But it should be used sparingly.
Real estate trade association Real Estate Board of New York favors landmarking but in moderation. Only worthy buildings should be designated, said REBNY Vice President for Urban Planning Paimaan Lodhi, who was previously a district manager for a community board in Manhattan.

Irresponsible landmarking — such as of empty lots and gas stations — restricts development, he said. (REBNY has supported recent designations, including Chester Court in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.) (more…)

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One of Crown Heights’ most important houses is about to begin its new life as affordable housing.

The John and Elizabeth Truslow House at 96 Brooklyn Avenue was originally built for a brilliantly wealthy family who made a fortune in stove manufacturing. But after it moldered in obscurity, affordable housing developers NIA JV and ELH Management swooped in to brighten its future.

Restoration on the home — which began in 2013 — is visibly nearing completion on the outside. When Brownstoner visited on Sunday, the exterior was notably spruced up and, we presume, all the holes and leaks fixed. When it’s done, its seven renovated apartments will be occupied by families making $36,680 to $120,240 a year. (more…)

This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.

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Before Brooklyn was a cultural and arts destination, it was first a Dutch settlement known as Breuckelen — named after the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands. The Dutch colonized what is now present-day Brooklyn in 1646, establishing six different towns with defined borders. These original towns eventually became English settlements, and then the settlements were consolidated to create the City of Brooklyn. (Brooklyn wasn’t incorporated into greater New York City until 1898.)

The original six Brooklyn towns that would become Brooklyn were Bushwick, Brooklyn, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Utrecht and Flatbush. Present-day Brooklyn neighborhoods bearing these names are located roughly in the center of each of these original towns. Here are a few details of those six original towns, when Brooklyn looked a whole lot different than it does today.

Map of Brooklyn towns via Ephemeral New York. (more…)

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City Planning’s vision for a rezoned East New York

Whither East New York? As Brooklyn’s waves of gentrification lap at the neighborhood’s shores, it’s a question on a lot of people’s minds, including eager developers, city planners looking to site affordable housing there, and wary residents looking at what’s happened to nearby Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant.

It’s also the question at the center of a panel discussion at the Brooklyn Historical Society tomorrow night, called “A Biography of East New York.” The assertion behind the discussion is that the neighborhood “is where NYC’s future is going to happen,” but that it’s also a place that is “by geography, class and race a far distance from the city’s centers of power and influence.”

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tweeted that more than five miles of “unattended” sidewalk shedding has been dismantled at 17 NYCHA developments in Brooklyn over the past 18 months.

If you live in New York, you know sidewalk sheds. They’re the pipe-and-plywood structures built to protect people on the street (from accidents like this fatal one at Christ Church several years ago) while a building is under construction. (more…)