Tuesday, April 19, 2005

How City Council may kill affordable housing

Click here: New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Julia Vitullo-Martin: How City Council may kill affordable housing

How City Council may kill affordable housing


The outcome of the fight now occurring over rezoning the Brooklyn waterfront will go far toward determining the future of the entire city.
The industry that once flourished on the East River left behind a huge swath of polluted, inaccessible land. As the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg started to rejuvenate in the 1990s, property owners and investors found that their efforts were impeded by zoning.

Indeed, large portions of Williamsburg's much admired rejuvenation has generally been done illegally, through the conversion of old manufacturing and commercial lofts into residential and mixed uses.

City planners hope to fix the zoning along 184 blocks of waterfront, permitting new development and returning the water's edge to New Yorkers. The Bloomberg administration wants to authorize thousands of units of housing to be built there while allowing light industrial and residential uses to co-exist - as they have historically.

Indeed, the beauty of Greenpoint-Williamsburg had been that residents could work and shop within walking distance of their houses.

But at recent City Council hearings some advocates opposed the rezoning, urging a host of contradictory changes. Some wanted much smaller buildings, which they argued would be in keeping with the neighborhood's low-rise character. Others wanted any newly created public space to be under the control of the Parks Department rather than developers. Many wanted assurances of continued industrial use of the waterfront.

The most vociferous objection, however, had to do with the number of residential units that would be set aside for low- and moderate-income households. Advocates urge that 40% of the housing units be made "affordable," meaning that developers would provide 40% of the units at below-market prices.

Below-market prices have to be paid for by someone, though, either by generous government subsidies, which are no longer available, or by the developer, subsidized by the profit yielded from far great

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