Responsible development possible
Jan 12, 2010 | 7141 views | 0 0 comments | 325 325 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Atlantic Yards site has certainly been busy of late, its true. Perhaps something is being built there after all. In the meantime, and it'll be a lengthy one, there's another development project in the area, named Atlantic Terrace, which was done with less fanfare, solid financing and a strict adherence to predetermined construction schedules.

In other words Atlantic Terrace is nothing like Atlantic Yards, and for that reason among many others it deserves special attention.

The ten-story, 80-unit development, located across the street from the Atlantic Yards site is a true model of affordable housing. Some 59 of the units are being set aside for moderate and low-income families, and guess what: non-wealthy people might actually be able to afford buying in.

Prices for the co-ops start at less than $90,000. In that range, they're geared to households- households, remember, not individuals- making less than $40,000 a year. Or two people with part-time, minimum wage jobs.

That scale actually begins to approach affordable for the average working New Yorker lucky enough to still have a job right now. Other developers should follow Atlantic Terrace's lead. New York needs more places like this one.

Too often, “affordable” housing as envisioned by profiteering developers is anything but.

Affordable guidelines are set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under the current system, below-market housing rates are pegged to HUD's regional area median income (AMI), which- inexplicably- includes wealthy swaths of the greater New York metropolitan area and stands at a fat $70,000-plus.

This makes no sense. Its an old story in sustainable development circles, but one that must be repeated until somebody does something to change the system.

Right now, too many developers are rewarded with lucrative tax breaks for including “affordable housing” units in luxury buildings that are way out of reach for most city residents.

The Atlantic Terrace project will prove there's another way. The developers of the project (the Fifth Avenue Committee is spearheading the effort) secured a range of subsidies to offset the cost of selling three quarters of their units at well below market-rate value.

Clearly, the will and the money are there for developers to build responsibly. Atlantic Terrace may not be perfect, but in New York- and in the Bloomberg years- it might be as close to perfect as we can get.

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