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Demo will start in March and construction will begin this summer on the massive Rheingold Brewery development in Bushwick, developer Read Property Group informed neighbors Wednesday. Covering more than 10 blocks, it is one of the largest construction projects to be undertaken in the area and the only one that is largely market-rate since at least the 1970s.

Similar-size projects included 100 percent subsidized housing on other parts of the Rheingold complex and Hope Gardens NYCHA housing, which was built on top of blocks that burned down in the riots and arson fires of the 1970s.

Workers will demo an old warehouse at 123 Melrose Street, above, where the first building will go up, reported DNAinfo. The 80-foot-tall building will house 385 apartments, 20 percent of which will be subsidized. There will be shops along Evergreen Avenue, 71 parking spots and an outdoor swimming pool. Construction will wrap in late 2016 or early 2017.

Rabsky Group and nonprofits Churches United for Fair Housing and Los Sures are also involved in the project. The nonprofits are looking for funding to build about 90 affordable one-bedroom units for seniors. They also plan regular affordable housing.

Affordable Units at Rheingold Brewery Site to Start Being Built This Summer [DNA]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

695 grand street rendering

A long-in-the-works affordable rental project in Williamsburg is finally moving forward with new building applications filed last week for an eight-story, 51-unit building at 695 Grand Street. Community Board 1 approved the development last summer, as we reported at the time.

The building will have a mix of studios through three-bedrooms, with 41 apartments set aside for low- to moderate-income families, as reported last year. Ten apartments will be permanently affordable, and eight will be subsidized by Section 8 and reserved for very low-income tenants. There will also be 10,000 square feet of commercial space. Magnusson Architecture and Planning is designing the building, which will incorporate green features like hydroponic PTACs a high-efficiency gas boiler, and St. Nick’s Alliance is the developer.

Demolition permits have not been filed for the two buildings on the large property, a Rainbow clothing store and a discount shop. Click through to see what they look like.

Community Board OKs Affordable Housing on Grand Street in East Williamsburg [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering by Magnusson Architecture and Planning

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Two Crown Heights teachers who want to create an educational community garden at 1662 Bergen Street received unanimous approval from Community Board 8 last night, despite the fact that the city-owned lot has been targeted for development. The concrete-covered, 1,800-square-foot lot is on the list of vacant sites that HPD wants to redevelop for affordable housing. It also sits across the street from Granville T Woods School on Rochester Avenue and Bergen, where Zsabatta Taylor and Liesel Zitman teach third and fourth grade.

The duo plan to use the space to teach kids from pre-K through fifth grade about agriculture and the environment, and to involve parents and the nearby community in the garden. Nonprofit 596 Acres will help install raised garden beds, the teachers told CB8.

After the meeting, a community board member who runs Mama Dee’s Garden nearby advised Taylor to get in touch with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust. BQLT acquires community gardens throughout the five boroughs to protect them from development. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

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City Planning Tuesday revealed more details of the mayor’s plan to rezone East New York and Ocean Hill in two environmental impact statement documents. By changing commercial-only zones to mixed-use and allowing slightly taller and denser buildings than what is there today, as well as making investments in the area such as streetscape improvements, the rezoning could bring new life and retail to the area and improve public safety.

We were pleasantly surprised to read the details of the plans, because they sound as if they will work. However, still missing is a crucial detail: We still don’t know the percentage of affordable units — and the plan could be put into action as soon as April!

As we and others have said, mixed-income buildings could have the unintended consequence of pushing up rents in the general area, both because the “market rate” units will be high for the area and because most of the “affordable” units will also be beyond the reach of most current residents. The more “affordable” a development is, the less likely it is to spur gentrification. Many new developments in the area for years have been 100 percent affordable (that is, subsidized), such as the Nehemiah houses, Spring Creek, and Gateway Elton II.

Some details of the plan: (more…)

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The mayor’s pastel-colored vision to develop East New York, above, with thousands of new units of mixed-income housing could backfire, making the area and others like it less affordable, said neighborhood residents and housing advocates quoted in a New York Times story: “Around New York, people who have watched luxury buildings and wealthy newcomers remake their streets are balking at the growth Mr. de Blasio envisions, saying the influx of market-rate apartments called for in the city’s plans could gut neighborhoods, not preserve them.”

The mayor’s affordable housing plan was the centerpiece of his State of the City speech yesterday, but it was light on specifics.

The Wall Street Journal and the Post also ran stories critical of the mayor’s plan. Some key points: Rents are unlikely to be low enough for the truly poor, union labor will increase costs, and locals will resist tall towers, said the Journal. An opinion piece in the Post called the plan “far fetched” and impractical. Residents fear an influx of higher-income newcomers, but “stagnation, not gentrification, is the more likely result,” according to the Post, because returns in low-income areas won’t be enough to offset the cost of the subsidized units. (more…)

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seriously considering basing her second presidential campaign here in Brooklyn, The Hill reported. The borough’s diversity will help attract young and minority voters, and Brooklyn’s transformation over the last decade could be a useful symbol for the campaign. Her team plans to formally launch her 2016 campaign in July, according to the paper.

In other Brooklyn political news, Mayor de Blasio gave his State of the City speech today, focusing once again on affordable housing. While he didn’t spend much time on Brooklyn specifically, he did mention East New York is one of the neighborhoods that will be rezoned for mandatory affordable housing, and he plans to expand ferry service to southern Brooklyn. DNAinfo reported that the new routes would include service to Red Hook, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bay Ridge and Coney Island.

Hillary Eyes Brooklyn for Campaign HQ [Politico]
Photo by Olivia Boddie

hpd tenants rights forum

If you’re confused about rent stabilization, Section 8 housing, or any of your legal rights as a tenant, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is hosting a forum next month in Brownsville to answer your questions. HPD reps will also discuss housing code violations, NYCHA housing, bed bugs, rent protections for seniors and the disabled, discrimination and affordable housing lotteries. The forum will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at P.S./I.S. 323 in Brownsville, located at 210 Chester Street. Check out the Facebook event for more details.

15 lafayette avenue fort greene rendering

The city is moving ahead with an affordable housing deal hammered out during the Bloomberg administration, and plans to sell the prime Fort Greene site on which it will be built to developer Jonathan Rose Companies for only $1, The New York Daily News revealed. The de Blasio administration is also pressuring the developer to keep the apartments at 15 Lafayette Avenue, also known as BAM North Site II, affordable beyond the promised 30 years, the paper said.

It appears the total number of apartments may have changed since we last reported on the plan, in October of 2013. There will be 123 units, all rentals, with 73 at market rate and 50 set aside as affordable housing, according to the story. Of the latter, 25 units will go to those making 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI), and 24 units will be for renters making up to 130 percent AMI.

Plans still call for 2,800 square feet of retail space, most likely a restaurant, and 19,000 square feet of cultural space. Originally Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and Science Gallery International were supposed to occupy that cultural space, but apparently the deal fell apart.

The site is located just across the street from BAM’s Peter Jay Sharpe building at 30 Lafayette. Construction is expected to begin this spring and wrap by the end of 2016.

City to Sell Prime Land for $1 to Developer for 49 Below-Market-Rate Units [NYDN] GMAP
City Releases Rendering for Last BAM District Build, Announces Developer [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Dattner Architects/Bernheimer Architecture 

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Social service agency Brooklyn Community Services has struck a deal with developer Louis V. Greco Jr. to redevelop its downtown Brooklyn headquarters. The plan will add seven stories to the existing seven-story building while preserving its historic facade, according to a press release sent out by the firms and New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen Thursday.

BCS will retain its offices in the form of a condo, and Greco will own the rest, including 106 apartments, some of which will be affordable. How much Greco is paying to buy the property was not revealed, and nothing has hit public records yet. BCS said it will use the proceeds to “serve its broader mission throughout Brooklyn.”

Some aspects of the plan had already leaked out in the form of Building Department filings and a rendering, above, which New York YIMBY published last month. The Wall Street Journal also wrote about the deal Thursday.

YIMBY didn’t like the PTAC units, but on the whole we think the addition looks pretty decent, and won’t be all that noticeable from the street anyway. (Click through to see a photo of the building in 2007.) What do you think of it?

Rendering from Heights Advisors via NYY; photo below by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark

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462 halsey street community garden

The city is looking to develop hundreds of vacant lots, including 15 community gardens, throughout the five boroughs into affordable housing. By our count, the list of properties includes 122 Brooklyn sites, at least seven of which are community gardens. Yesterday, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released the list of the publicly owned sites. Last month, it issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), inviting developers who would like to build small affordable housing projects on the sites.

Developers can choose to build small affordable rental buildings, co-ops, condos or one- to four-family townhouses. The affordable condos or co-ops can’t be larger than 14 units, and may qualify for financing through the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP). Co-ops and townhomes built through NIHOP are aimed at families making 80 to 130 percent of the Area Median Income ($83,900 to $109,070 for a family of four), with one-third set aside for those making 80 to 90 percent AMI.

Through the Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP), developers can build rental buildings ranging from 15 to 30 units. Only renters making less than 165 percent AMI can qualify ($138,435 for a family of four).

Here’s our possibly incomplete list of the gardens slated for redevelopment:

451 Bedford Avenue — La Casita Verde
615 Saratoga Avenue — Isabaliah Ladies of Elegance
120 Jefferson Street — El Garden
659 Willoughby Avenue/267 Throop Avenue — Tranquility Farm
1680 Pacific Street — Green Phoenix
462 Halsey Street — 462 Halsey Street Community Garden
119 Vernon Avenue — New Harvest
142 Patchen Avenue — Patchen Community Square
774 Halsey Street — Halsey, Ralph and Howard Community Garden

Photo via 462 Halsey Street Community Garden/Facebook

affordable housing crisis

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is organizing a conference Thursday evening to discuss how tenants could be affected by changes in the rent regulation laws, which are due to expire this summer. The New York State Senate will decide whether to renew them on June 15. Several local politicians, including Mayor de Blasio, are pushing for the repeal of the 1971 Urstadt Law, which gives the state control over rent regulation instead of the city. Many of those politicians will appear at tomorrow’s conference, including state senators Montgomery and Hamilton, as well as City Council members Laurie Cumbo, Stephen Levin, Carlos Menchaca and Robert Cornegy Jr. State Assembly members Joe Lentol, Walter Mosley and Felix Ortiz will also attend.

The Affordable Housing Crisis will take place January 15 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at 85 South Oxford Street. RSVP by emailing or calling Senator Montgomery’s office at 718-643-6140 or ojonas@nysenate.gov.

affordable housing meeting flyer

If you missed the fall sessions on applying for new affordable housing in Downtown Brooklyn, a group of community organizations are hosting another forum next month, where they’ll explain how to navigate the housing department’s lottery process for affordable apartments. Staff from the Mutual Housing Association of New York will offer advice on filling out applications on NYC Housing Connect. They’ll walk through the income requirements for each new development, as well as the documents applicants need to give to the city’s Housing and Preservation Department (HPD). The seminar will take place on February 5 at 6:30 pm in Bethany United Methodist Church, located at 1208 St. Johns Place between Albany and Troy avenues in Crown Heights.