Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

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WXY and Local Projects–designed theater included in new Bronx affordable housing complex

Today officials broke ground on Bronx Commons, an affordable housing complex designed by Danois Architects and WXY Architecture + Urban Design. The mixed-use development, in the South Bronx's Melrose, includes 305 affordable apartments and is developed by local nonprofit WHEDco and BFC Partners in conjunction with New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). In a distinctive twist, the project is grounded by a 14,000-square-foot, 300-seat arts and cultural center and performance space. The Bronx Music Hall, which grew out of WHEDco's storefront music "lab," will bring programming to thousands annually and focus on nurturing the borough's artists. A public plaza and 22,000 square feet of retail at East 163rd Street rounds out the program. “As we build more and more needed affordable housing, there is no finer tribute to New York’s deep artistic history than including a music hall in this Bronx development," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement. "The projects will transform long-vacant City land into a vibrant cultural mecca and residential community for the borough and the City. I congratulate the Melrose community, and the future residents of this 100 percent affordable development." True to its diverse programming, the project is being executed by three different New York firms. Danois Architects is designing the housing, while WXY and Local Projects are designing the Bronx Music Hall. The latter firm specializes in interactive media design and its work anchors the new and stellar permanent exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. The 426,000-square-foot project is being built on vacant city-owned land, the last free parcel in the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area. The city is touting its "deep" affordability, with units for households making between 30 and 110 percent of the Area Median Income, or $22,032 and $89,760 for a family of three. The borough's median household income was $34,299 for 2015. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Terra-cotta in context: a contextual bridge between past and present

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After nearly ten years, Downtown Brooklyn's City Point—a three-phase, 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use development—was recently completed. It features a unique assemblage of housing towers—one dedicated to market-rate housing, with another predominantly containing affordable housing—atop a shared retail podium. Designed by New York–based architecture firm COOKFOX, the development is directly adjacent to the planned Willoughby Square Park, Albee Square, and the historic 1908 Dime Savings Bank. The architects said the project is about “tying together Downtown Brooklyn’s grand past with its thriving future.” This is represented through a dynamic faceted massing strategy that responds to a triangular corner lot on Fulton Street, and a white and pale gray terra-cotta rainscreen that subtly reflects the marbled exterior of the century-old bank next door. COOKFOX spokesman Jared Gilbert said when the project began in 2007 only 200 units of housing existed in the neighborhood, which now boasts tens of thousands of units. "We needed to design something that met this new reality of Downtown Brookyln, which is that it is a full-service 24-hour neighborhood."
  • Facade Manufacturer Shildan (Phase 1); Island International Exterior Fabricators (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Architects COOKFOX Architects with Greenberg Farrow Architects (Phase 1); COOKFOX Architects with SLCE Architects (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Facade Installer Acadia Realty Trust, Crowne Architectural (Phase 1); International Exterior Fabricators, Empire Glass, Elite Glass (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Location Brooklyn, NY
  • Date of Completion 2012 (Phase 1); 2016 (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • System steel frame with terra-cotta rainscreen (Phase 1); Prefabricated mega-wall panels with standing seam zinc cladding and Skyline aluminum windows (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Products ALPHATON® Terra-cotta Rainscreen and BAGUETTE® Sunscreen by Shildan, VM Zinc (Phase 1); Rheinzink in “Blue Gray," Rheinzink in “Graphite Gray," Invarimatte Stainless Steel, Skyline Windows (Phase 2 Tower 1)
As architects increasingly confront the issue of contextualism of our cities, terracotta rainscreen manufacturer Shildan is seeing an enormous increase in demand. "We see many more terra-cotta projects each year, with projects getting larger and more complicated. Designers are pushing the envelope to create more complicated shapes, details, and custom finishes, and it’s not just the architects and owners [who] need to be satisfied. We work closely with various kinds of administrators, historic commissions, city planners, government boards and committees, etc—those with a vested interest in seeing the entire context unfold cohesively.” City Point's Phase One retail base is composed of a typical stick built facade with layers of waterproofing and insulation over stick built metal stud construction. An applied rainscreen system by Shildan is installed by first mounting a framework of sub-girts with integral clips to the facade. The open joint terra-cotta panels are then hung off this system. Moshe Steinmetz, president of Shildan, said City Point was a milestone terra-cotta project in the US for its incorporation of custom blends of glazes and profiles. "There has been more and more demand for unique glazing. We are now seeing unique glazing on the terra-cotta on about 50% of our jobs." Steinmetz says terra-cotta has a particular "wow factor" that provides an owner an exterior facade system that has energy savings, incorporates healthy wall construction (open joint rainscreen systems minimize mold and mildew growth), low maintenance, and high durability. He says 30- and 40-year-old terra-cotta systems are clearly outperforming other building components: "You don't see the age of the building on the terra-cotta material - you see it elsewhere in the the windows and other finishes." The architects incorporated two terra-cotta extrusions into the design that are finished in a series of glazes and colors that helps to randomize the facade. The resulting variation promotes what their office calls an interest in the concept of biophilia—people’s natural affiliation to the complexity of natural patterns in the world. This subtle variation in the glaze and the variation in profiles and the way they are randomly deployed is to create a somewhat more natural pattern and rhythm,” said Susie Teal, senior associate at COOKFOX. This interest in patterning can also be seen in Phase Two, which was recently completed. At over 1 million square feet, this phase includes a retail podium and two residential towers that involve separate developers with separate programs. Teal said Tower One includes 80% affordable housing and features a “low-budget facade system” composed of prefabricated “megapanels,” unitized 10-by-40-foot panels, by Island International Exterior Fabricators in a defunct Long Island-based airplane hanger. The panels were craned off a truck, set onto the facade, and gasketed together for rapid assembly. The wall panels are finished in a standing seam zinc with staggered spacing varying from 5-inches, 10-inches, and 20-inches. Randomly locating the zinc standing seams helped the architects visually conceal large 1-inch joints while mimicking a more varied natural pattern. "This helps to blend in a construction system so you don't see a lot of seams," said Teal. “Also, zinc is a natural material—most famously used in Parisian roofs. It lasts a long time and patinas dependent on the local atmospheric conditions. The north side might end up weathering different than the south side. This was all intentional. In order to watch this material change, we have randomly distributed stainless steel panels that will stay bright and shiny.”
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Colorado proposes to build affordable housing with legal marijuana tax revenues

A new initiative by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper seeks to divert $16.3 million in tax revenue generated from the state’s legal marijuana trade toward creating permanently affordable housing units for homeless individuals in the state. The Denver Post reports that the Governor’s plan would allocate $12.3 million in legal marijuana tax revenues to build 1,200 affordable housing units for chronically homeless individuals as well as 300 additional units for periodically homeless individuals over the next five years. Hickenlooper also proposes taking $4 million in funds to construct 354 assisted housing units that will be paired with behavioral health services facilities over the same time frame. The Governor’s budget proposal also features $2 million worth of incentives to generate 250 affordable housing units for senior citizens and individuals fighting displacement. The Denver Post also reports that Colorado has seen a six-percent increase in homelessness this year, bringing the state’s unhoused population to 10,000, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Meanwhile, the state’s total supply of year-round beds allocated to serve this population numbers less than 7,000. Allocating tax revenues generated from the sales of legal marijuana toward housing services would require a change in the law which currently only allows for these funds to be spent on marijuana and addiction-related measures. It would introduce a new question to the legalized marijuana debate: If such revenues are no longer being spent directly on enforcement and substance abuse programs, then how might they be extended across various aspects of society? The budget proposals come amid an increasing belief among state officials, according to Hickenlooper, that homelessness and the state’s legal marijuana trade go hand-in-hand. Backers of this theory believe that easier access to marijuana can exacerbate substance abuse problems among the population at large. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports Hickenlooper as saying, "We're trying to make sure that the [marijuana] tax revenue is to a large extent, if we're going to build affordable housing, is for people that had a drug problem. We're trying to use the revenues for unintended consequences of drug use, especially legalization of marijuana." According to the governor’s budget office, state taxes on medical and recreational marijuana came to $134 million over the first nine months of 2016. Those funds are largely earmarked for enforcement, mental health, and substance abuse efforts in the state.
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A new book explores the fight—past, present, and future—to realize NYC’s public and affordable housing

I can trace my interest in New York City’s public housing to a very specific moment back in 2005. New to the city, on a visit to the Queens Museum of Art, I marveled at the “Panorama of the City of New York,” the great model of the city built by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair. While taking it all in—the Manhattan grid and Central Park, the bridges and piersand waterfront, the city’s terrific expanse—I wondered about the many clusters of red towers cropping up all over the five boroughs. “What are those?” I asked a friend. “The projects,” he answered. “What do you mean the projects?” I asked. “Public housing,” he said—“It’s where the poor live.” I blushed.

Affordable housing, its state, and most pressingly, the lack of it, has been a concern in New York City for more than a century. Most recently Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it a central focus of his administration, promising to create and preserve 200,000 affordable units over ten years. That’s a monumental goal. In 2015, as we learn in the introduction to Affordable Housing in New York, a wonderful new book edited by Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthew Gordon Lasner, 8 percent of the city’s rental apartments (some 178,000 units) were still in government-owned and -operated public housing developments, with hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers living in complexes like Co-op City, privately-owned, below-market buildings developed with governmental aid and subsidies.

Bloom and Lasner, and the exquisite group of contributors they assembled for this volume, look into the first hundred years of projects, programs, policies, communities, and individuals that brought to life this one-of-a-kind housing stock. They focus on what they call “below-market subsidized housing,” noting that “affordable housing,” a term that is in wide use today and one that they use in the book’s title, is “a comparative term that can be stretched to include many kinds of housing”—much of what today is called “affordable,” in fact, can hardly be afforded by working-class families, let alone the poor. Anyone who tries to understand how below-market subsidized housing works in New York City is faced with a mind-boggling tangle of terms and myriad city, state, and federal programs, laws, subsidies, stimuli, grants, tax credits, and abatements, not to mention rent regulations and alternative ownership models. This book offers a way to untangle and understand these terms and their histories.

The volume begins at the turn of the 20th century, when housing the urban poor was essentially a private, philanthropic endeavor. In 1926, in response to mounting pressure due to the abysmal nature and magnitude of the problem, Governor Alfred E. Smith opened the way for governmental involvement in housing with the Limited Dividend Housing Companies Act, the nation’s first law to offer tax exemptions to developers of affordable housing and, most important, to allow the use of eminent domain for site assembly. Organized in six chapters that trace a roughly chronological trajectory, the book offers critical overviews of different waves of housing development as well as a series of essays that analyze case studies of representative communities and short sketches of key figures and programs. Most interestingly, the book tackles this history with what the editors call a “humanistic, longitudinal, large-scale approach,” training “a humanistic lens on discussions usually dominated by designers, social scientists, and policy analysts.” By analyzing about three dozen housing projects of different eras in their social and historical context, the book sheds new light on this multifaceted history without falling into the trap of becoming an obscure laundry list of housing policies.

The housing supplied over this troubled century, as the country was being radically transformed by two world wars, several immigration waves, and the Great Depression all the way to the Great Recession, never seems to meet the demand. Displacement, racial segregation, and the stigma of poverty were (and remain) persistent problems. It is especially frustrating to realize how far behind we are lagging as a society when one considers that, to this day, we cannot meet a goal set 80 years ago by Langdon Post, a housing activist appointed by then-mayor Fiorello La Guardia to head the newly created New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), who claimed that the First Houses, a public housing complex built in 1936 in the Lower East Side, were “the first dwellings which are predicated upon the philosophy that sunshine, space, and air are minimum housing requirements to which every American is entitled.”

Many of the people that advocated and fought for public housing were larger-than-life personalities. Their battles, as well as their successes and failures, were big, and we live to this day with the legacy of their work. (The stories of New York City housing activists told in this book could well be optioned for a movie.) Women, in particular, were central for bringing about the much-needed changes in housing policy in New York City and beyond. In addition to an essay on the writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs, a revealing essay is dedicated to Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch (1867–1951), a housing activist who played a key role in “transforming the Progressive Era movement for settlement houses and tenement regulation into a local and national movement for tenement destruction and public housing construction.” Developing her ideas on housing management based on the work of another important woman, the 19th-century London social reformer Octavia Hill, Simkhovitch became “the force behind maternal systems of tenant management.” She also worked with the housing reformer Edith Elmer Wood and with Catherine Bauer Wurster, a leading public housing advocate and author of the influential 1934 book Modern Housing, with whom Simkhovitch drafted many of the provisions for the United States Housing Act of 1937. Closer to us, we read about Yolanda Garcia’s work as the leader of the Bronx coalition Nos Quedamos and about Rosanne Haggerty’s innovative approach to “supportive housing” with the organization Common Ground.

Bloom and Lasner argue that, despite many setbacks and shortcomings, New York City’s efforts are ultimately a success story: There are lessons to be learned from the complex process of building and preserving, physically and socially, publicly subsidized housing. If the book is a historical study of the city’s first century of below-market housing, its larger aim, the editors write, is that of “securing more resources for a second.”

One of the book’s happiest merits is that it tries to put a face to the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the projects—with a powerful photographic essay by David Schalliol. Affordable Housing in New York also lets us hear some of the voices of public housing residents. A revealing essay is dedicated to “Hip Hop and Subsidized Housing.” Hip-hop’s genesis can be traced to a 1973 party in General Sedgwick House, a Mitchell-Lama rental complex built in 1969 in the Bronx. In the words of Jay Z, who grew up at the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, “Housing projects are … these huge islands built mostly in the middle of nowhere, designed to warehouse lives. People are still people, though, so we turned the projects into real communities, poor or not.” Meanwhile, he continued, “even when we could shake off the full weight of those buildings and just try to live, the truth of our lives and struggle was still invisible to the larger country.”

Affordable Housing in New York is a worthy step toward lifting this veil of invisibility.

Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthew Gordon Lasner Princeton University Press, $39.95

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Facebook to invest $20 million in affordable housing

After receiving criticism for displacing low-income residents in Silicon Valley, tech giant Facebook will invest $20 million in below-market-rate projects in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, California. Housing activists have long blamed Facebook for contributing to extreme income inequality in the area. This is not only because the corporation has displaced residents by expanding its headquarters campus, but also because of a seemingly well-meaning policy that offered bonuses to employees who lived near campus in Menlo Park rather than in San Francisco proper. Critics say this policy accelerated gentrification of the area and caused low-income tenants to be evicted in favor of the higher-earning Facebook employees. Of course, Facebook alone cannot be blamed for the Bay Area’s gentrification—Google, Apple, and hundreds of other heavy hitting technology firms and start-ups also call the area home. Plus, according to nonprofit group Public Advocates, the housing shortage in Silicon Valley has reportedly reached crisis levels, with the region building only 26 percent of the housing needed for lower-earning people. With Facebook’s new campus expansion, which entails adding 1.1 million new square feet to its current complex and plans to hire 6,5000 new employees over the next few years, community groups were concerned. In response, Facebook partnered with local activists and community groups, such as Youth United for Community Action, Faith in Action Bay Area, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, and Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste – East Palo Alto, as well as the local governments of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to address the impact it will have on the Bay Area. Facebook is legally required to contribute $6.3 million to affordable housing thanks to development laws but does seem to be genuinely invested in the community. In addition to the $6.3 million required, another $12.2 million has been pledged to below-market-rate housing, $500,000 will go toward helping those displaced with legal and rental assistance, and $625,000 will go to job training in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). “Since shortly after Facebook was created, we’ve been part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The region—this community—is our home,” said vice president of public policy and communications Elliot Schrage in a statement. “We want the region to remain strong and vibrant and continue a long tradition of helping to build technologies that transform the future and improve the lives of people around the world, and also in our extended neighborhood. We all need to work together to create new opportunities for housing, transportation and employment across the region. We’re committed to join with the community to help.”
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100-percent affordable housing complex proposed for San Francisco’s Mission District

San Francisco–based David Baker Architects, along with affordable housing developers BRIDGE Housing Corporation and Mission Housing Development Corporation, have released conceptual renderings for an upcoming, 100-percent affordable housing complex in San Francisco. The project, 1950 Mission, is to be developed in the Mission District neighborhood of the city and will provide 157 affordable units to the area, with 20 percent of those units set aside for formerly homeless families and the remaining homes allotted for families making between 45 and 60 percent of the area median income. According to city-data.com, the average median income for the Mission District in 2013 was $73,718.

The 1950 Mission complex is designed as a pair of apartment blocks connected by a central courtyard with a large, nine-story building fronting Mission Street and a smaller, five-story structure located along a mid-block alleyway.

The primary structure on Mission Street features a variously articulated facade arrangement that is segmented into three sections with a central stepped black-panel-clad portion flanked on either side by street-fronting apartment blocks. These facades, similarly clad in panelized finishes along the lower four floors with stucco walls above, feature storefront windows along the ground floor and punched openings denoting the apartment units above. The storefronts include smaller-than-average retail spaces designed to be occupied by local businesses, with plans to include an art gallery as well. The commercial areas along the ground floor will also feature varying ceiling heights, between 11 and 20 feet, in an arrangement that will help to boost the overall number of units developed through the project. The areas along the ground floor are set back from the building mass in certain areas, allowing the units above to create covered outdoor space underneath by acting as shade-casting overhangs.

The smaller apartment block will be accessed via a mid-block public approach that also connects to the central courtyard space and will feature an “artists’ paseo,” a walkway flanked with artists’ studios. With this arrangement, the designers hope to create a community gathering spot and arts-focused public space. The second apartment structure is set back from the alley with a 10-foot-wide planted area and features masonry-clad, undulating facades with specialized window hoods covering most of the building’s punched apertures. Those hoods are articulated to shield the openings from solar glare, and dot the stepped facade along various exposures. The building is topped by a rooftop garden and urban agriculture facility the architects have dubbed “Jardin de Las Familias,” and is connected to the larger structure via a series of stacked skywalks that traverse the courtyard area.

The project will provide on-site supportive services for future tenants via providers PODER, Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Head Start and Early-Head Start, Lutheran Social Services, and Mission Girls Services mentorship programs. Cervantes Design Associates will serve as associate architect on the project, which is currently moving through the entitlement process. A timeline for construction has not yet been released.

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Major affordable housing developments coming to East Harlem and the Bronx

New York City is set to get hundreds of new units of affordable housing in the Bronx and Manhattan. On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office welcomed news that the City Council had approved four developments in the Bronx and East Harlem. Lawmakers had previously rejected rezonings that would've allowed affordable developments in Sunnyside, Cobble Hill, and Inwood, three major blows to the mayor's plan to build or preserve 200,000 units for low- and middle-income households over the next decade. In the Bronx, the biggest project is the redevelopment of the Lambert Houses, a $600 million initiative that will bring two elementary schools, a renovation of a local park, and $12.3 million in transit infrastructure improvements to the West Farms neighborhood. All units at the other Bronx developments, Morrisania's Melrose Commons and West Farms's Second Farms, will be completely rent-regulated. At East Harlem's Lexington Gardens, 20 percent of the units will be let for more than median rents, Politico reports. The complex, designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and developed by L+M Development Partners and Tahl Propp Equities' Lexington Gardens, is a 400-unit development bounded by Park Avenue, East 108th Street, and East 107th Street. Retail, parking, and space for nonprofits will occupy a 15-story, 411,725-square-foot structure. The building is zoned for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which ensures that units will remain permanently affordable. 20 percent of the Lexington Gardens apartments will be available to households making one-third of the area median income (AMI), which is $24,480 for a family of three, while an additional 30 percent will be offered to those making half of the AMI, or $40,800 for a three-person household. The full-block development portends residential construction elsewhere in the neighborhood: The pending East Harlem rezoning could bring 3,500 units to the area in the coming years.  
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Zaha Hadid Architects and Patrik Schumacher openly feud over public housing and privatizing public space

One of the world's top architecture firms has entered a public row with one of its partners. On November 17, Patrik Schumacher, a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and renowned proponent of parametricism, took the stage at the World Architecture Forum in Berlin to deliver a speech that shocked some: Attacking government regulation and bureaucracy, he described an eight-point plan that called for the privatization of public space, the elimination of government-issued land use policies, and the abolishment of all social, affordable, and public housing, among other similar goals. In the speech, he decried how such laws, regulations, and practices stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. "All top-down bureaucratic attempts to order the built environment via land use plans are pragmatically and intellectually bankrupt," he said, according to Dezeen. Schumacher has made similar statements in the past, though with less forcefulness. Last August, he told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that "We at ZHA see society’s development differently and I’m willing to talk about my optimism for more market-based organization processes and entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems. Solutions to maybe what we can perceive to be certain economic statements and stagnation in recent years." Earlier this morning, ZHA published this letter, which AN has reproduced below:
Open letter from Zaha Hadid Architects November 29, 2016 Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future. Zaha Hadid did not write manifestos. She built them. Zaha Hadid Architects has delivered 56 projects for all members of the community in 45 cities around the world. Refusing to be confined by limitations or boundaries, Zaha did not reserve her ideology for the lecture hall. She lived it. She deeply believed in the strongest international collaboration and we are very proud to have a hugely talented team of 50 different nationalities in our London office, including those from almost every EU country. 43% of architects at ZHA are of an ethnic minority and 40% of our architects are women. Zaha Hadid didn’t just break glass ceilings and pull down barriers; she shattered them—inviting everyone of any race, gender, creed or orientation to join her on the journey. Embedding a collective research culture into every aspect of our work, Zaha has built a team of many diverse talents and disciplines—and we will continue to innovate towards an architecture of inclusivity. Architects around the world are calling for the profession to become more inclusive. The national and international press have also done a very good job highlighting the critical issues of housing and the threats to vital public spaces. Through determination and sheer hard work, Zaha showed us all that architecture can be diverse and democratic. She inspired a whole new generation around the world to engage with their environment, to never stop questioning and never—ever—stop imagining. Collaborating with clients, communities and specialists around the world who share this vision, everyone at Zaha Hadid Architects is dedicated to honouring Zaha’s legacy, working with passion and commitment to design and deliver the most transformational projects for all. Zaha Hadid Architects  (Copyright © Zaha Hadid Architects)
It remains unclear exactly who authored the piece, or who among the firm's members, trustees, partners, etc. pushed for its publication. AN  will continue to cover this story as it evolves. UPDATE: Oliver Wainwright of the The Guardian has tweeted this:   UPDATE: “Come out Patrik, come out from under that table!” cry protesters at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office
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NYC to get $300 million more for affordable housing this year

Thanks to some high-level maneuvering between feuding leaders, New York City is set to increase its capacity to build affordable housing. Last Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would grant $300 million in bonds to build or refurbish low- and moderate-income housing. The governor's okay raised the city's 2016 tax-exempt bond capacity to $771 million, the largest increase in a decade. "Homelessness is exploding and affordable housing is all but disappearing,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York City needs this help from the state which will provide thousands of units of safe, clean, affordable housing and will help alleviate this crisis.” In another instance of state-city tensions, the state, per federal law, controls bond capacity, and that control has escalated tensions in the perpetual rivalry between Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Yesterday, though, the mayor's administration got to celebrate. "This funding is critical to keeping our affordable housing engine in high gear,” de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace told the Daily News. “With so many vital projects lined up—including homes for low-income families and homeless seniors—we are grateful the State is coming forward with this additional $300 million allocation." Last year, the state gave the city $694 million in bond capacity, which was less than the city expected and delayed construction of affordable units, the mayor said. Friday's announcement comes on top of last week's deal between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the Building and Construction Trades Council that seems set to revive 421-a (even after they temporarily reneged over a misunderstanding on the agreement's wage rates). Although housing advocates say the new exemption could cost New York billions in lost revenue each year, REBNY says the housing tax credit is essential to building affordable housing in the city.
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Real estate and unions bring 421-a tax break back from the dead

Union leaders and real estate power players have brokered a deal to revive an expired property tax break that many see as key to developing affordable housing in New York. The two groups agreed on a multipart deal to revive 421-a, one of the largest property tax exemptions for rental housing in the city. In its expired version and its just-forged incarnation, 421-a gives developers tax breaks for constructing multi-unit buildings on vacant land in certain areas of the city. The deal expired in January when the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), an industry association, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC), an organization of building trades unions, could not reach an agreement on wages. Real estate developers said they could not finance affordable housing projects and pay the wages unions demanded, while unions argued that wealthy developers could pay, but didn't want to cut into profit margins. Unions also argued that their knowledge of workplace safety and skilled labor pool create job sites that are safer than non-union ones. One major part of the new deal is that union construction workers on 421-a property tax exempt projects be paid an average of $60 per hour, benefits included, for new construction in Manhattan south of 96th Street with 300-plus rental units. A second component applies to buildings of the same size in Queens and Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 1, an area that roughly includes Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, and Fort Greene, plus any eligible construction within one mile of the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. On these 421-a eligible projects, construction workers would be paid $45 per hour, benefits included. The third portion paves the way for opt-outs. Any 421-a project where more than 50 percent of rental units are reserved for below-market-rate households is exempt from wage agreements, and these affordable units would remain so for 40 years. The property tax exemptions on these sites would be active for 35 years, up from 20 under previous 421-a rules. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that will permit the production of new rental housing in New York City, including a substantial share of affordable units, while also ensuring good wages for construction workers," REBNY chairperson Rob Speyer said in a prepared statement first shared by Politico. The governor expressed measured approval, too. "The deal reached [last Thursday] between these parties provides more affordability for tenants and fairer wages for workers than under the original proposal," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a prepared statement. "While I would prefer even more affordability in the 421-a program, this agreement marks a major step forward for New Yorkers." The proposed deal would apply to a 421-a bill passed (but not signed into law) by the state legislature in June of last year. That agreement would apply citywide, and it includes provisions that developers must hire independent auditors to review payroll. Developers will not have to hire unionized workers as long as they enter into labor agreements voluntarily with unions. If state legislators sign off on the REBNY and BCTC agreement, 421-a will be revived. Cuomo has indicated he will sign the changes into law in a special legislative session prior to the regular session that begins in January. Concurrently, the governor is urging lawmakers to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to release $2 billion in funds to build affordable housing for low- and middle-income households statewide. Right now, that money is entangled in other negotiations. In New York City, Mayor de Blasio is still reviewing the proposal to see if it passes his administration's standards. Politico points out that the deal that a similar he designed in association with REBNY last May was criticized by the governor. For their part, affordable housing developers are not pleased by the deal between the powerful groups. "Adding an additional 10 years (to the) exemption, on top of (an) already grossly excessive 25-year proposed exemption, yields a tax break that is unprecedented and unjustifiable on any fiscal or programmatic grounds," Benjamin Dulchin said in an email to Politico."[It's] unconscionable on its face." Dulchin is the head of the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, a group that represents affordable housing developers. Since 421-a expired, applications for residential construction have dropped precipitously, so affected industries are hoping its revival will spur new construction.
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Developer says Long Island College Hospital will not have any affordable housing

Long Island College Hospital (LICH) has officially checked out of the mayor's plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.
Owner Fortis Property Group will not seek to rezone the Cobble Hill, Brooklyn site, which means it can build market-rate (read: luxury) housing there instead. Mayor Bill de Blasio fought to keep the hospital open during his mayoral campaign three years ago; when that option became unlikely, the mayor fought to convert the site, a 20-building complex, into a mixed-use development with an affordable housing component.
The all-powerful market has spoken, though, and it has quashed those housing plans. "We have decided to move forward with an as-of-right redevelopment plan for the LICH site," Fortis president Joel Kestenbaum told Politico. "Based on the high demand for community facility space at this premier location, timing, and other development factors, an as-of-right redevelopment is the most profitable." Right now, an NYU Langone–operated medical facility occupies the site, and a smaller facility will be included in the redevelopment under the same operators. When the hospital closed in 2014, the mayor's office pushed to rezone the site to allow for denser development: Plans called for moving the tallest proposed tower away from the low- and mid-rise residential neighborhood and closer to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which slices through Cobble Hill's western edge. Councilmember Brad Lander, whose district includes the LICH site, was skeptical of the density increase inherent in the rezoning. Lander would consider legal action if the development plan consists of a 35- and a 14-story tower, which the councilmember called "obnoxious" and "hideous." Fortis is still nailing down details of the conversion, though plans are said to include retail, a school, and green space.
The hospital deal is one of many sites being studied by the U.S. attorney's office as part of its investigation into the mayor's fundraising practices and allegations of pay-to-play deals centered on real estate.
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Former Bronx juvenile prison to become 740-unit affordable housing development

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) have unveiled renderings for plans to redevelop a former Bronx juvenile prison into a mixed-use development centered on affordable housing. WXY architecture + urban design (WXY) are collaborating with Body Lawson Associates (BLA) to transform the notorious Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into The Peninsula, a $300 million project that will create 740 units of "100 percent" affordable housing. Along with typical deliverables—retail, community, and green space—for a project this size, the Peninsula will bring 49,000 square feet of light industrial space to the Hunts Point neighborhood. The project is one of many mixed-use complexes cropping up in the borough: In May, Mastermind Development broke ground on a $117.7 million project in East Tremont and FXFOWLE's La Central in Melrose is moving forward. The development team—Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Companies, and Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY)—was chosen through a 2015 request for expressions of interest (RFEI). The team is working with longtime neighborhood stakeholders like the Point CDC, BronxWorks, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Urban Health Plan, Sustainable South Bronx, and others. In 2014 Majora Carter, the urban revitalization activist and founder/former executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, partnered with AutoDesk to imagine alternatives to the Spofford site, which operated as the Bridges Juvenile Center when it was shuttered by the city in 2011 over appalling conditions and inmate abuse. DNAinfo reports that a development team spearheaded by Carter was rejected in favor of the winning proposal. "The lack of diversity on the team chosen by NYCEDC to develop Spofford is not indicative of Mayor de Blasio’s much-publicized commitment to including minority businesses in the city’s contracting," Carter told DNAinfo. "Instead EDC selected a typical team composed exclusively of white men 'partnered' with uncompensated minority nonprofits to whom no transformative capital benefits will accrue." The five-building development is nevertheless coming online in three planned phases: Phase one is expected to be complete in 2021, with phase two coming online the year after, and the third and final phase set to open in 2024. In addition to providing housing, those facilities will host a business incubator, job training facilities, school space for pre-K (an on-site Head Start will be incorporated into the project) and higher ed, 52,000 square feet of open space, and an 18,000-square-foot health and wellness center operated by Urban Health Plan. Food is key to the Peninsula: According to the NYCEDC, in addition to a 15,000-square-foot supermarket, local favorites like Il Forno Bakery, Soul Snacks, Bascom Catering, and Hunts Point Brewing Company will be setting up shop in the development.