Transforming Affordable From a Slogan into a Residence
BY LAUREN PRICE | “Our city’s biggest challenge is the growing disparity between affordable and market-rate housing,” according to Jonathan Miller, the president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a New York-based real estate appraisal and consulting firm. “Producing affordable housing helps us provide a greater diversity for labor skills needed in New York. And in the long run, affordable housing stands as an essential component for the city to continue as a thriving community.”
This is the week when Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose 2013 campaign focused considerable attention on expanding affordable housing opportunities, announced the specifics of “Housing New York: A Five Borough, Ten-Year Plan.” A report released on April 23 by City Comptroller Scott Stringer (comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/budget-reports) made clear the scope of the housing affordability challenge facing the city after 12 years in which median apartment rents grew by 75 percent, compared to an average increase nationwide of 44 percent. De Blasio’s goal of building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade represents a significant step up from the 165,000-unit record from the 12 years of the Bloomberg administration.
The new mayor comes to his mission with considerable housing qualifications. During the Clinton administration, he served as the regional director for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under then-Secretary Andrew Cuomo. As a member of the City Council prior to his election as public advocate in 2009, de Blasio wrote the law that stopped landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income.
Currently, developers of rental properties can receive low-cost financing through the city’s Housing Finance Agency (HFA) when at least 20 percent of the units are designated as affordable housing. Drawing on funds raised through the sale of tax-exempt bonds, the HFA requires that qualifying apartments must be affordable and rented to households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the neighborhood Area Median Income (AMI), adjusted for family size. An alternative way for developers to qualify is to set aside 25 percent or more of a project’s units for households whose income is 60 percent or less than the local AMI, adjusted for family size.
Affordability is defined as a monthly rent no greater than 30 percent of gross household income.
A list of projects financed by HFA currently holding lotteries or accepting applications can be found at nyshcr.org/topics/home/renters/opportunitiestoapplyforaffordablerentalunits.htm.
New York has a high-density housing market short on land, but more than a few of New York’s major development companies are big players in 80/20 affordable housing programs — which Mayor de Blasio, on May 5, called “the model of the past,” to be replaced by one that “will maximize affordability in each and every situation.”
Related Companies, one of the nation’s largest developers, has a significant commitment to developing, acquiring and preserving housing in the affordable sector. In fact, according to the company’s website, more than 60 percent of its 50,000-plus apartments under management are part of one or more affordable housing programs (related.com/our-company/businesses/9/affordable-housing).
L+M Development Partners is a builder of affordable, mixed-income, and market rate housing. From conception to completion, this developer is responsible for more than $2.5 billion in housing development, investment and construction, having created more than 15,000 units in the tri-state area.
In a partnership with Dunn Development, L+M is currently developing the mixed-use, multi-building Navy Green complex on Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues in Fort Greene near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Offering about 460 units when completed, the development represents a combination of rentals and condos, with more than 20 percent of the total designated as affordable, as well as nearly 100 units of supportive housing. (lmdevpartners.com)
TF Cornerstone focuses on acquisition, development, construction, and management of residential, commercial, and retail properties. With an aggressive acquisition strategy and a construction division, the company’s property portfolio includes a collection of luxury residential buildings such as 4610 Center Boulevard in Long Island City and 505 West 37th Street in Manhattan.
Partnering with Selfhelp, a senior citizen non-profit organization, the company is now at work on Phase 11 at Hunters Point South, which is a massive housing complex along the Long Island City riverfront. Made up of two high-rise towers with nearly 1,200 units, the development is setting aside 60 percent for affordable housing — with some 100 units reserved for seniors. The development will feature a fitness center, a rock-climbing wall, a rooftop deck, a pre-K school and a dedicated senior recreational center with fitness classes, nutritional education and blood pressure testing, among other services. (tfcornerstone.com/new-york-city-life/tag/affordable-housing)
Gotham West, located in a series of buildings on West 45th Street, is a mixed-use, 1,238-unit development from the Gotham Organization. There are 250 units that fall into the 80/20 program, and the development has created another 432 units for middle-income housing.
“Gotham West is currently accepting applications for the middle-income category,” said Melissa Pianko, the Gotham Organization’s executive vice president of development. “We also have another 80/20 project under construction at 600 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, but marketing efforts have yet to begin.” (gothamorganization.com)
Back-to-back sites in Manhattan developed by L+M, one fronting 116th Street and the other fronting 117th Street, feature a pair of residential buildings with a total of 194 homes. The Adeline, on 116th Street in Central Harlem, is an 83-unit, market-rate condominium. The other, Harlem 117, houses 111 affordable rental units. Designed as a non-smoking building, it will feature a resident-only lounge, a landscaped courtyard and rentable on-site parking. The expected completion date is mid-2014. For application information, visit 117thstreetrental.com.
Another new affordable project taking shape in Harlem is a two-tower 80/ 20 development by Continuum Company at 1800 Park Avenue. When completed in about two years, these towers will be Harlem’s tallest buildings. Opposite the Metro North Station between East 124th and 125th Streets, the project will include about 120 affordable units and roughly 380 market-rate apartments. (continuumcompany.com)
Glenwood Management is one of New York City’s largest owners and builders of luxury rental apartments, and over five decades has built a reputation as a leading full-service organization in property development and management. Glenwood has opened a waiting list for affordable rentals at the eight-story Hampton Court at 333 East 102nd Street (download an application from glenwoodnyc.com/assistedhousing).