04/23/14 9:30am


Average rents rose 77 percent in Brooklyn while city wide real median income fell 4.8 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to a report out from the city comptroller described in The New York Post. The increases were the largest in any borough.

A story in the Times implied that meeting Mayor de Blasio’s stated goal of keeping or creating 200,000 affordable units will not fix the problem:

In an interview, Mr. Stringer said numeric goals were not enough. He noted that the Bloomberg administration spent $5.3 billion of city money and leveraged another $18.3 billion to both create new affordable units and preserve existing housing — for a total of 165,000 units over 12 years — yet the city today is still grappling with record homelessness and the loss of low-rent housing.

A separate story in the Post described a young woman paying only $1,256 a month in rent for a spacious two-bedroom rent stabilized in Crown Heights — on the face of it, an excellent deal. But, with a salary of only $30,000 a year before taxes for her retail sales job, she can barely afford it. Her landlord has offered her money to move, but she didn’t take it, knowing she would not be able to find a lower rent elsewhere.

Rents are going up and wages are falling everywhere, not just in New York City. “In the rest of the nation, rents rose by 50.1 percent over the same period — hitting an average of $773 per month,” said the Post.

The comptroller’s report recommended that affordable housing in New York City should focus on the poorest, not middle income New Yorkers. What do you think should be done?

New York City Housing Push Should Aim at Poorest, Report Says [NY Times]
NYC Rents Skyrocket as Incomes Lag [NY Post]
As Rents Rise, Some Stuck in Affordable Homes With Moving Too Costly [NY Post]

04/21/14 10:00am


The passive-house affordable apartment building at 424 Melrose Street wrapped in February and 22 of the building’s 24 units are already filled, reported The New York Daily News. A joint project of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Mennonite Church, which owned the land, it was paid for by private bank loans, a federal tax credit and the New York State’s Housing Trust Fund.

Rents range from $400 to $1,100 for a studio to a three-bedroom. Eight units are for low-income residents and 15 are for handicapped. Interior photos in the Daily News show beautiful long windows and tiny radiators. There are two small boilers on the roof and 16 thermal solar panels. The 28,000-square-foot building cost $8,500,000 to construct and uses about 10 percent of the energy of most buildings of its size, according to the story. The architect is Chris Benedict.

Construction caused evacuation of nearby buildings in 2012, as we reported at the time.

The finished building looks different from the rendering, but we like it. The beige and white color scheme is not particularly inspiring, but we like the rhythm and pattern created by the grouping of the passive-house windows, whose look too often detracts from older buildings. This is one of many affordable projects in Brooklyn with admirable architecture, including a number spearheaded by the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. Another passive building with 24 units at 803 Knickerbocker Avenue is scheduled to finish this summer.

Click through to the Daily News article to see the finished building. What do you think of the design?

Inside the Country’s First Multi-Family Affordable Passive House Apartments [NY Daily News]
Bushwick Buildings Evacuated After Cracks Appear [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Chris Benedict via Inhabitat

Construction of this eight-story affordable apartment building is chugging along at 482 Franklin Avenue in Bed Stuy. We found this rendering designed by Aufgang Subotovsky Architecture on the fence at the site between Jefferson Avenue and Hancock Street. (Fortunately, it doesn’t look like this.)

We checked on the site last summer when construction first started, and now seven stories have risen and windows are going in on the lower floors. The building will house 100 units spread over 68,486 square feet, along with 33 enclosed parking spaces and 47 bike storage spots, according to new building permits.

Amenities will include a gym on the ground floor and recreation space in the cellar. The mixed-income development is a joint venture between Realty Within Reach and Joy Construction Corp., according to this press release from the city’s Housing Development Corporation. The apartments will be studios, one- and two-bedrooms.

Since the press release calls for 93 units, not 100, the income distribution might shift slightly from these numbers: “Three units will be targeted to tenants earning up to 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), currently $33,200 for a family of four; 16 units will be reserved for tenants earning up to 50 percent AMI ($41,500 for a family of four); and 73 units will be targeted for middle-income tenants with rents set at 130 percent AMI (currently, $107,900 for a family of four) and incomes up to 175 percent AMI ($145,250 for a family of four).”

Click through to see a construction photo.

Affordable Housing Going up at 482 Franklin Avenue in Bed Stuy [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)

04/03/14 11:30am


A report from the Real Affordability for All Campaign recommends that new developments in Brooklyn should be 50-50 affordable and market rate, with the affordable units targeted to low-income households, The New York Daily News reported. In the four years from 2008 to 2012, 61 buildings in Brooklyn received tax breaks but only five of them included below-market-rate apartments, according to the report.

That number sounds low to us, and presumably doesn’t include 100 percent affordable buildings that have gone up in areas such as Brownsville and East New York. Above, a new luxury building with affordable units at 15 Dunham Place in Williamsburg. The building has views of the water and the Williamsburg Bridge.

Further, “as rents keep skyrocketing in areas like Fort Greene and Boerum Hill, black and Hispanic populations have taken a dive over the past 10 years, according to the report,” said the story.

Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola said a 50-50 mix would be impossible. “We all agree New York needs more affordable housing but changes to policy should not be based on flawed studies like this,” the story quoted him as saying.

What do you think?

Groups Want More Affordable Housing in Brooklyn From Mayor de Blasio [NY Daily News]
Luxurious Loophole Report [Real Affordability for All Campaign]

Photo by Google Maps

03/26/14 10:45am


The development at 66 Rockwell Place has re-opened its application process for affordable apartments with a new deadline of April 19. In addition, details about the apartments and eligibility criteria have changed.

Previously published details were incorrect and for a different building, according to an email from Community Board Two we received last night. However, only current residents of the Community Board Two area are eligible to apply. The previous round of applications started in 2013 with a deadline of May 21.

Click through to the jump to see revised details about apartment sizes, availability and income ranges. Applications are available from CMP Consultants here. Applications must be sent by regular mail only and postmarked no later than April 19. (more…)

03/18/14 11:30am

It looks like six stories have gone up so far on the seven-story, 210-unit development at 1133 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. The most recent Schedule A filings reveal that the development will have 37 parking spaces and 35 bike storage spots underground, as well as 85 parking spaces and 77 bike parking spots on the ground floor.

Apartments will range from studios to two-bedrooms, with half priced affordably and the other priced at market rate, as we reported a year ago. The mixed-use project will also have recreation space, offices and retail on the ground floor, an exercise room, and laundry rooms on every floor.

The architect is Navid Maqami of Perkins Eastman, according to new building permits filed last year. The 35,800-square-foot site used to house a large brick warehouse.

Click through to the jump to see the rendering we found on the construction fence — a bigger version than one we published last year. What do you think of the design?

Look of Greenpoint Build on Manhattan Avenue Revealed [Brownstoner]  GMAP


03/10/14 10:45am

new building application was filed last week for a five-story building at 331 Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Hill. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is listed as the owner on the permit. The vacant lot has been city-owned since the late ’70s, according to public records.

The SLCE-designed development between Dean and Bergen streets will include 80 apartments spread across 61,080 square feet. It will also have storage for 40 bicycles, 15 underground parking spaces, recreation and community space, laundry and a computer room.

Half of the units will be for families earning below the poverty line, according to a 2013 Crain’s article. The complex will be called Bergen Saratoga Apartments and the developer is Dunn Development, it said.

The design could be interesting. SLCE is also the architect of 388 Bridge Street, Brooklyn’s tallest building, and Williamsburg’s 250 North 10th Street. GMAP

Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

03/10/14 9:30am


As we approach the May 1 deadline for Mayor de Blasio to present his plan for 200,000 units of affordable housing, housing advocates and preservationists worry that increasing the percentage of affordable housing in private developments will require outsize development in Brooklyn. Last week’s approval of Domino, which will have towers reaching up to 55 stories, has given those advocates a prime example of this policy, according to the Daily News.

“Hopefully new affordable housing can be created without necessarily requiring a massive scale of construction to do so,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Meanwhile, City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod argued that density and good design and planning don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Mayor De Blasio’s Housing Plan Is Building Big Worries [NYDN]
Rendering by SHoP

02/14/14 10:00am


The Water Street Apartments at 60 Water Street in Dumbo are now taking applications for affordable units there. Construction on the Two Trees development, known as Dock Street Dumbo, started in 2012. The 18-story mixed-use development will have 300 rental units in total, including 58 affordable units. The affordable units will range from studios to two-bedrooms.

Monthly rents will start at $538 for a studio and go up as high as $893 for some two-bedroom units, according to an email sent out by Community Board Two. Income caps range from approximately $23,000 a year for a studio to $42,000 a year for a family of four. Applications must be postmarked by April 7. For more information, or to download an application, go to http://www.phippsny.org/page/135.

Steel up at Dock Street Development [Brownstoner]
Rendering via Curbed

Bed Stuy’s The Shelton, an affordable co-op building that launched sales in 2012, is now 90 percent sold, according to a press release. The 14-story building at 775 Lafayette Avenue between Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard still has four units available, all two-bedroom, two-bath units, starting at $424,500.

There is no lottery for the co-op units, but purchasers cannot have incomes exceeding $145,250 per household.

Thirty percent of the units in the 83-unit building were sold through a lottery process in 2012. The middle-income co-op units range from one-bedrooms to three-bedrooms. The units have oak floors, granite and Caesarstone counters, and washers and dryers. The building has a part time doorman, gym, bike storage and underground parking. St. Philip’s Christian Church owns community and office space in the building.

Developer TNS Development Group Ltd. contributed equity to the project. Funding came from Banco Popular North America, the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC)  and The Housing Partnership Development Corporation (HDC).

Bed Stuy’s The Shelton Is 70 Percent Sold [Brownstoner] GMAP

The developers behind Navy Green have re-filed new building permits for the first of 23 market-rate townhouses in the affordable Fort Greene development, which already includes two mixed-income rental buildings and a third for supportive housing. L+M Development and Dunn Development will build the three-story single-family homes on a large vacant lot at 24 Vanderbilt Avenue, half a block from the Navy Yard.

The massive publicly funded project already has a 12-story building at 7 Clermont Avenue, an eight-story one at 45 Clermont, and the supportive housing building at 40 Vanderbilt Avenue. Until now, Navy Green has cost an estimated $85,200,000 in city and state funds. GMAP

Correction: The townhouses are market rate, not affordable. 

City, Developers Cut Ribbon at Navy Green Development in Fort Greene [Brownstoner]
A Tour of the Navy Green’s 45 Clermont [Brownstoner]
Move-Ins Have Begun at First Navy Green Building [Brownstoner]
Lottery Coming for Affordable Navy Green Rental [Brownstoner]
Move-Ins Happening Soon at Third Navy Green Building [Brownstoner]

02/07/14 9:00am


In a most unexpected development, New York State politicans are pushing to restart the Mitchell-Lama housing program for the middle class in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported. The effort, which is being spearheaded by a Bronx-based State Senator, would be state wide. At this early stage of the game, it’s anyone’s guess whether any of the housing would be built in Brooklyn, but it seems likely, given the skyrocketing cost of housing here.

The units could be rentals or co-ops. In the case of rentals in New York City, the income requirement for a family of four would be $75,000 to $100,000 a year. Rents would be set at $1,900 to $2,500 a month.

That range sounds pretty expensive for a family earning $75,000 to $100,000, but it’s certainly more affordable than current market rate rents in prime areas of Brooklyn. Perhaps also the apartments would be roomier — and more suitable for a family with children — than comparably priced units on the open market, if past Mitchell-Lama units are any indication.

The 1950s-era program created more than 100,000 homes statewide. The new program would cost $750 million to build several thousand units in New York City and four upstate cities over a span of five years. The state, for its part, would kick in $150 million each year “to finance more affordable mortgages for developers and create a new tax credit for the developments,” said the story.

Are you in favor of Mitchell-Lama housing in Brooklyn? Above, Brooklyn’s Starrett City, now called Spring Creek, a Mitchell-Lama project in Jamaica Bay.

Push Begins to Jumpstart Mitchell-Lama in New York State [WSJ]
Photo by GK tramrunner229 for Wikipedia Commons