Residents and City Officials Seek Ways to Increase Housing Options

Residents and City Officials Seek Ways to Increase Housing Options

As the city continues to look for ways to increase housing opportunities, community members and city planners are working together to help prevent gentrification while also meeting housing demands. Here are a few projects that are currently underway.

Officials Push for Crown Heights Armory Apartments to be 100 Percent Affordable

The Bedford-Union Armory Redevelopment project in Crown Heights has not been without its controversy and problems continue to mar the development due to an overall lack of support and public outcry about the project. In September, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was urged to drop out of the project and, to add to the turmoil, local and state officials want developers to make all 300 of building’s new apartments to be affordable. To achieve this goal, state senator Jesse Hamilton, representative Yvette Clarke and assembly members Walter Mosely and Diana Richardson have drafted a letter to the New York State Economic Development Corporation explaining why the project should be below market rate. Namely, the officials feel that the apartments should be affordable because they are located on city-owned land.

Under current plans, half of the building’s units would be deemed affordable. Those who are opposed to the current plans maintain that those apartments would not be affordable to the residents in place and, therefore, would accelerate gentrification in the neighborhood. The current plan also calls for giving preference to neighborhood residents with 50 percent of the units, a figure officials want increased to 80 percent. Officials also want to see no more than 40 percent of the 300 apartments as studio and one-bedroom units.

City Planning Approves Pier 40 Air Rights

The City Planning Commission has approved the sale of air rights from Pier 40 in the West Village, thereby eliminating a major hurdle that was standing in the way of transforming St. John’s Terminal into hundreds of apartments. Located across the street from the development project at 550 Washington Street, approval of the sale will allow the developers to build a larger project.

According to reports, developers Atlas Capital Group and Westbrook Partners is offering $100 million for the rights to the property. That money will then be used by the Hudson River Park Trust, which is the organization in charge of overseeing the management of Hudson River Park where Pier 40 is located.

Not surprising, the redevelopment plans have raised some concerns among community members. The main concern is the vast size of the project, which would bring 1,500 apartments to the neighborhood. Residents are concerned that the increase in population will lead to traffic congestion while also drawing big box stores to the area. To alleviate concerns, the developers have committed themselves to building a 10,000-square-foot publicly-accessible recreation center. They have also committed to removing a rail structure over West Houston Street in order to create a more open entrance to Hudson River Park. Meanwhile, the CEO of the Hudson River Park, Madelyn Wils, reports that the project will allow much-needed repairs to be made to Pier 40, which is a critical revenue generator for Hudson River Park.