Mayor De Blasio has struck a deal with the developer of the Domino Sugar factory site, averting a potential impasse over affordable housing.
Under the agreement, Two Trees will add an additional 110,000 square feet of affordable housing to its current plan, bringing the total to 537,000 square feet, or 31 percent of the project’s overall residential space. The 700 units — a bump up from the 660 units Two Trees had previously promised to deliver — will be “permanently affordable” and there will be a “significant number of units sized for families,” per the city’s announcement.
A higher-up at Two Trees told Bedford + Bowery that the larger affordable housing footprint was a compromise between the developer’s promised 437,000 square feet and the city’s desired 550,000 square feet. The developer had tried unsuccessfully to compromise at 500,000 square feet, and eventually talked the city down to 537,000 after arguing that space dedicated to a school building shouldn’t have to be offset by affordable housing.
On average, the affordable housing units will be priced to accommodate residents who are making 70 percent of the Area Median Income, he said. A spokesperson for the mayor noted that most of those units would be low-income units made permanently affordable via 421-a tax abatements.
De Blasio had said last week that he wanted to see more two- and three-bedroom units, a request that Two Trees called “unworkable.” The number of family units aren’t set in stone under this new agreement, but the Mayor’s office believes the increased footprint will allow for more of them.
Brian Paul, writer of The Domino Effect and a vocal critic of the current plan, was encouraged by the permanent affordability of the units but told Bedford + Bowery, “Only AMIs at 60 percent or less are at all helpful to people under displacement pressure in Williamsburg.” He also wondered whether the mayor had managed to score community benefits such as a job training program, contribution to anti-displacement, contribution to open space development, and the like.
According to our source at Two Trees, a local advisory board will be created to oversee park events. So, at least there’s that.
All of this will be put to the City Planning Commission’s vote Wednesday. In the meantime, here’s the Mayor’s press release.
NEW YORK–Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the city has reached an agreement with Two Trees Management on a proposal to redevelop the Domino Sugar site on the Williamsburg waterfront, which will significantly increase the amount of affordable housing provided. Under the agreement officially proposed today at a City Planning Commission meeting, the developer will provide an additional 110,000 square feet of affordable housing as part of the project, for a total of 537,000 square feet of affordable housing.
The proposal will create 700 affordable apartments covering a range of incomes, including a significant number of units sized for families. Affordable apartments will be integrated throughout the complex, ensuring a dynamic mixed-income community. Unlike prior proposals, all of those units will be permanently affordable. Work on the first building will begin in December 2014.
Mayor de Blasio has set an ambitious goal of building and preserving 200,000 affordable apartments over the coming decade, and this agreement represents a major first step toward achieving that goal.
“We set out from Day One to get the best possible value for the public. This partnership delivers on that commitment,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “We are securing more of the affordable housing families in Williamsburg need, and we are doing it by working together. This agreement is a win for all sides, and it shows that we can ensure the public’s needs are met, while also being responsive to the private sector’s objectives. I am profoundly thankful to City Planning Chairman Carl Weisbrod and our combined teams for their work reaching this outcome.”
“We are so proud and pleased with what we’ve accomplished here. This won’t just be an ordinary development — it will be part of an integrated neighborhood that brings people of every income level together. We are proud to work with Mayor de Blasio’s team and the City Council to get this project across the finish line, get shovels in the ground, and deliver the housing and jobs this city needs. We hope this can become a model for what we can all achieve together in the years ahead,” said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.
The proposal announced today will be voted on at Wednesday’s City Planning Commission meeting. It will increase the percentage of affordable housing to 700 units out of over 2,200 total apartments in the 2,928,429 square-foot project. The project will also include significant commercial, incubator, tech and creative space that supports the administration’s economic development strategy to increase quality jobs as part of mixed-use developments. It will also provide public access to the waterfront and other open space amenities.
Related: Just How Sweet Is the Domino Deal?