Opponents of the plan to redevelop the Domino Sugar refinery are speaking out again as Mayor de Blasio asks for additional affordable housing just days before a make-or-break City Planning Commission vote.
On Thursday, The Times reported that De Blasio, in what’s being called “the first act of the real-estate drama for the new administration,” is asking Two Trees to include an additional 50,000 square feet of affordable housing in its 2.9-million-square-foot project along Kent Avenue. The developer, in turn, says De Blasio’s request for less studios and one-bedroom units and more two- and three-bedroom units is “not workable,” since less income from market-rate units would mean less money for a school and a park, among other things.
Now Brian Paul, a policy analyst, activist, and writer of The Domino Effect, has responded to the article via , once again calling on Two Trees to commit to a binding affordable housing agreement. Paul points out that Community Board 1 has called for more two- and three-bedroom units all along, and renews his own calls for lower-priced “affordable” units and for measures to mitigate the increased population density the waterfront towers will bring.
As I wrote in my testimony to the City Planning Commission, in Brooklyn Community Board 1, the Area Median Income is only $41,540 – roughly 50% of the metropolitan AMI that is used to calculate affordable housing. Therefore, in order to have “affordable housing” that is actually affordable to the majority of community households in Community Board 1, it has to be targeted at 50% AMI or lower. 60% AMI will be helpful to some in the community under pressure from displacement, but anything higher than 60% AMI and we really can’t consider it “affordable housing” for Community Board 1 in any meaningful sense of the term.
The director of special projects at Two Trees told the Daily News that if its plan isn’t approved, it would be “compelled to build the inferior as-of-right plan or sell it to another developer” — repeating an old threat that it would go back to a previous plan, agreed upon by the city and the former developer, that only requires 440 affordable units.
But in the end, it looks like Two Trees is trying to avoid that. According to Crain’s New York, the developer has now offered to codify its commitment to create 500,000 square feet (or 660 units) of affordable housing space. It’s uncertain whether that’s contingent on government subsidies; Two Trees principal Jed Walentas has said in the past that he would agree to 660 units only if he scored housing subsidies. We’ll let you know what we hear about that, and will keep you posted about Wednesday’s vote.