Affordable apartments on Brooklyn waterfront still far on horizon
Four years after agreeing to let private developers build luxury condos on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront, the city has yet to deliver promised affordable housing there.
None of the 1,345 low- and middle-income apartments that were pledged by the city have been completed – and construction has begun on just one apartment building, with a mere 14 units, officials conceded.
The affordable units were part of an agreement that helped get a controversial rezoning plan passed by the City Council.
“It’s definitely [been] too long,” said Councilman David Yassky (D-Williamsburg, Greenpoint).
“The city agencies make all kinds of promises when there’s a rezoning on the table. … We need a clear timetable with real deadlines.”
North Brooklyn Development Corp. director Rich Mazur said 2,700 people have requested applications for the 14 apartments in a building on Herbert St.
The rezoning “forced a lot of the middle-income and poorer-income residents to leave because they couldn’t afford the rents anymore,” he said. “There’s huge … pent-up demand.”
Department of Housing Preservation and Development spokesman Seth Donlin said the Herbert St. project, started last July, is almost done. Ground hasn’t been broken at any of the other 16 sites.
“While there have been a number of unforeseen delays and each development has its unique challenges, the city is currently at work on facilitating the development of almost 650 units of affordable housing on the public sites identified in the [2005 agreement],” Donlin said.
He declined to specify how far along those projects were, but a Feburary analysis by community groups found HPD had picked a developer for just 92 of the affordable apartments.
Already angry over the city’s failure to come through with new parks promised for the neighborhood, advocates said the housing delays were one more broken promise.
“They’ve failed over and over and over again,” said Evan Thies, a member of Community Board 1 and a candidate for City Council.
“It’s inertia. They didn’t go forward on the most simple assignment, which was to build city-owned and managed affordable units on city-owned lots.”
At a Dupont St. site now occupied by a Department of Environmental Protection sludge tank, 431 units of affordable housing were set to rise alongside a public park.
But both projects are on hold because of difficulties encountered relocating the sludge tank.
The MTA’s refusal to move from a Commercial St. site – even after the city offered several potential relocation spots – has jeopardized 200 low-income apartments, in addition to a park planned for the location.
BY Erin Durkin