Affordable Housing Lottery Opens for 30 Pricey Units in Converted Bushwick Church Complex

616-628 Bushwick Avenue in September, 2017. Photo by Google Maps


They’re technically “affordable” because they’re income restricted, but are the units in a new housing lottery in Bushwick actually affordable to the people who need them?

A studio in the complex rents for $2,013. The lottery is set an area median income range of 130 percent, and the gap between the rents for the affordable units and the market rate apartments is not very wide.

Consider that a market-rate studio in the same complex rents for $2,150, a difference of $137. There are 30 units in the affordable housing lottery for 618 Bushwick Avenue.

The building is part of a 99-unit, block-long development at 616-626 Bushwick Avenue called The Saint Marks. The complex includes two fanciful Victorian buildings — the former St. Mark’s Lutheran School and Evangelical Church — as well as a severely plain-looking new seven-story building (technically an addition), all of which are now connected.

Of the 30 affordable apartments, there are two studios, 16 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units. Rents for one-bedroom units range from $1,997 to $2,128. Rents for two-bedroom units range from $2,400 to $2,564. Eligible incomes range between $68,469 and $135,590 for households of one to four people.

There was a previous lottery for affordable housing at 616 Bushwick Avenue in the same development in April 2017, with units starting at $822 a month.

Market-rate rentals hit the market in 2017, a collection of studios, one and two-bedroom units ranging from $2,150 to $5,700. Asking rents for market-rate one-bedrooms vary considerably: They start at $2,350 a month and go up to $5,700 for a unit in the church spire.

affordable housing brooklyn bushwick 616 bushwick avenue

The site in 2012. Photo by Christoperh Bride for PropertyShark

The complex includes a laundry room, parking lot for 12 cars and bike storage, all of which have additional fees, and a shared roof deck.

Apartments will have rooms with large windows and pale wood-veneer kitchen cupboards, according to images from the previous lottery.

Electricity, electric hot water and cooking gas are not included in the monthly rent. Eight of the two-bedroom apartments in the current lottery have electric heat, a single one-bedroom has both gas and electric heat, and the remaining 21 have gas heat, according to the notice on Housing Connect.

affordable housing brooklyn bushwick 616 bushwick avenue market rate interior

Photo via Nooklyn

The existing buildings on the development site, the former St. Mark’s Lutheran School and Evangelical Church, were designed by noted Brooklyn architect Theobald Engelhardt and completed in 1892.

The property was purchased for $4.1 million in 2012 by Cayuga Capital Management. Over the next few years, the developer slowly converted the former church and school into residential units. The developer removed the historic church spire to comply with zoning height rules and because it was unstable, Cayuga told Brownstoner in 2015.

In addition, the developer constructed the new addition on the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Troutman Street. Hustvedt Cutler is the architect of record.

Years ago, a row of tenements occupied the corner of the site. Empty and boarded up for years, they were covered in graffiti, including wheatpaste art by Swoon depicting a child in its mother’s arms.

affordable housing brooklyn bushwick 616 bushwick avenue

The church in 2015. Photo by Cate Corcoran

Maybe it was the creative connection that led Cayuga to sell the property in September 2017 to art heir David Wildenstein for $51 million. His father, Guy Wildenstein, is the current patriarch of a family that is as well known for their priceless art collections as they are for appearing in the tabloids.

Bloomberg reported in 2016 that over 300 works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art “have a Wildenstein provenance,” enough in itself to fill a small museum.

Their real estate deals have also made headlines: In 2017, the family sold an Upper East Side mansion for $79.5 million, setting a new record for townhouse sales in Manhattan.

affordable housing brooklyn bushwick 616 bushwick avenue

The site in 2014. Photo by Rebecca Baird-Remba

Applications for the affordable housing lottery must be submitted by September 5. Apply through NYC Housing Connect. To learn more about how to apply for affordable housing, read Brownstoner’s guide.

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