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Luxury Rental Building Planned for Avenue D

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Architectural rendering; luxury apartment building planned on Avenue D and East 2nd Street.

Developers of a proposed apartment building envisioned on the northwest corner of Avenue D and Houston streets went before a committee of Community Board 3 last night. They came with renderings of the planned development, which would include 166 studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments, as well as ground-floor retail. A representative for the owner estimated (based on 2011 projections) that the studios (600 sq/ft) would go for about $2800/month. There will also be 34 “affordable units,” ranging from $460-$770/per month. The plans call for a 2500 sq/ft roof deck for residents.

The development would be built on several privately owned parcels and one city-owned lot being purchased by the developer. The developer’s name was not disclosed last night – his representatives said only that he is a former beer distributor.

The city was compelled to go before the community board as part of a public review process (ULURP) required anytime it is proposing the sale or redevelopment of city-owned property. The board was asked to weigh in, specifically, about the sale of the single parcel the developer wants to buy for the project.

CB3’s land use/zoning committee  approved the proposal in a 9-4 vote, with one abstention. One affordable housing advocate, Joel Feingold of GOLES, said, “this will be viewed as an incredibly hostile imposition. This building fits the exact caricature in people’s minds of neighborhood loss and change. Despite the 34 units of affordable housing, that’s a starting point… I think it’s ludicrous to consider putting a building on Avenue D that’s all glass and steel and costs $2800 for a studio. I think it’s outrageous.” One CB3 member expressed concerns that the neighborhood would be losing a community garden, located on the city-owned parcel.

Addressing Feingold’s concerns, David McWater, the committee chair, said “everybody’s using the same math, the same calculators… This is the way the world is. As far as I’m concerned, thank God we got the 34 units… The city has decided to sell their land… they have a legal right to do that. All we’re being asked is whether or not we want to choose these people to be the people that get the land… people have done their homework on this.” The city expects to be paid over a million dollars for the Houston Street parcel.

The resolution passed by the committee requires the roof deck to be closed after 10pm and it calls on the developer to hire local construction workers. Addressing the roof deck restrictions, the owner’s representative said he did not believe it was the community board’s role to “govern human behavior.”  But he added that they had no interest in running a building that would “antagonize the neighborhood.” The full board will vote on the plan later this month.

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  1. LOL, Joel Feingold is hilarious. It’s OUTRAGEOUS that a “luxury” (aka market rate) building be immediately across the street from a project! Outrageous! Because if there’s one thing that low income people want, it’s to live surrounded exclusively by other low income people. It’s true! Just ask the residents of the now defunct Cabrini Green projects in Chicago. The more the better, all in one place.
    This building is obviously targeted towards middle class professionals who want to live in Manhattan but can’t afford the West Village, the East Village proper, etc. This is not a “luxury building,” because, guess what Joel, luxury buildings aren’t surrounded by projects! Nobody looking for “luxury” is going to wind up on Ave. D. These are people who want to live in Manhattan but can’t afford anywhere else, and make too much money to qualify for NYCHA housing. For this crime, we should banish them, and their “luxurious” ways!
    Are people worried that new developments will price out people living in city housing? I don’t get it.

  2. In all fairness, Joel’s comments were a bit more extensive than I indicated in the post above. We’ll add some context once the meeting is transcribed.

  3. reading the above from Joel – just makes me cringe.
    the self rightous sense of entitlement of the mooches in this City knows no bounds.
    As if every poor person has a legal right to live in Manhattan and NOT pay for it.
    Joel, move to florida, plenty of affordable housing for all there.
    Seriously, extreme left wing liberalism always loses the center and you remain at the frindge.

  4. As promised, here is a more extensive version of Joel’s comments:
    “Ave. D is one of the most densely populated public housing areas in the city… It is one of the last refuges on the Lower East Side for working class communities. This will be viewed as an incredibly hostile imposition. This building fits the exact caricature in people’s minds of neighborhood loss and change. Despite the 34 units of affordable housing, that’s a starting point… I think it’s ludicrous to consider putting a building on Avenue D that’s all glass and steel and costs $2800 for a studio. I think it’s outrageous.”

  5. Sorry if this is a double post. Can’t find my original.
    Neither this story nor Joel properly address is what the CB was voting on.
    The question before us was not whether or not the building fit politely into a working class paradigm.
    Most of this building is being built as of right on private property. A small part of it (about 20%) is being built on a lot that the city is selling the developer at MARKET prices. The sale of land from the ctiy is what the board was asked to vote on.
    What better option was there? If the city built affordable units there themselves they would be hard pressed to reach 34 units on their small lot, the amount we will be getting from the developer. And those units and that construction would COST the city, whereas this nets the city money.
    If Joel had opposed this project because the parcel of land was one of the many community gardens siezed by the city during the Giuliani era (and there were board members who voted against it for this reason) I could see that as legitimate. But telling the board they should vote against this because the developer is putting it in a package that includes market rate housing in an as of right development is just absurd.
    The story really does not present the essential nature of what was being asked of the CB. Nor does it really reflect the essentials of the debate or the vote, it did not pass “narrowly” it passed 9 yes, 4 no, 1 abstain, and Joel’s comments were essentially ancillary and dismissed by the committee who realized they were not german to the task at hand.

  6. David,
    You make some fair points. The story has been corrected to specify the vote breakdown and to clarify that you were dealing specifically with the city owned parcel. We also added what you had to say during the meeting about Joel’s concerns. More than willing to acknowledge when our stories fall short. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  7. Ed, they don’t normally fall short and I regret that I didn’t mention that. I thinkk you folks do a tremendous job covering cb3 and provide a real service. I read you every day and this is the first time I ever felt like I had to correct the record so you are probably doing better at your job than I am at mine. :)

  8. My comments certainly weren’t german. But they were definitely germane.
    The fundamental question here, as it is in the case of Basketball City (also on CB3’s agenda this month):
    Should the City use public land to profit private developers without requiring clear, inarguable benefit to the public at large — not to mention the people who live on and love those blocks?
    In cases like this, it can come down to a “threshold of benefit.”
    Does 34 units of affordable housing meet that threshold on Avenue D?
    On Avenue D, where working people are doubled and tripled up in their parents’ houses, waiting to find a place they can afford in their own neighborhood?
    And, as David points out: On a corner of Avenue D used for decades as a free and public community garden?
    The Community Board ought to weigh these questions as it continues to deliberate — and so should the other bodies involved in ULURP: the office of the Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council.
    As for “the math”: Do the multiplication again. $2800 a month at 30 percent of income means you’d have to make more than $100,000 dollars a year to live in the vast majority of these apartments. That’s 125% of New York City’s median income for a family of four, and 250% of the Lower East Side’s median income for a family of four.
    And those are only the studios — housing for an individual, not a family of four.
    Remember that the developer would get a cash bonus and a zoning exception to build the affordable units — and would make a killing on the “market” units. (They’re using the 80/20 program and the inclusionary zoning FAR bonus.)
    Is it worth it?

  9. My point to Yori Yanover and Harold Jacob who claim that only low income housing exists on the LES and therfore SPURA should not contain one stitch of affordable housing. Wake up and look all round the area —- that the only development being built in the area From Avenue D to 14th Street to Canal Street is LUXURY RENTALS and LUXURY HOTELS. So kindly, please stop taking inhumane potshots at affordable housing.

  10. It’s not “This is the way the world is.” CB3’s zoning task force ardently asked this in the rezoning.
    During the rezoning process, independent activists and residents warned that the rezoning would increase bulk on Avenue D and the residential area of Houston by a factor of twice. Under the prior zoning, only about five stories (3.44 FAR) was allowed as-of-right, unless a community facility, not a likely proposition, or air right transfers, which would have preserved the neighboring tenements.
    This 12-story upscale imposition will very likely spread its real estate values to its neighbors on D, all of which are now allowed as-of-right 5.4 FAR — much larger than the prior zone — and not likely to include any affordable units.

  11. Joel, a question for you. Why do “working people who are tripled and doubled up” in their parents’ houses have the unalienable right to live in lower Manhattan? When my rent went up above what I was willing/able to pay, I moved to a cheaper neighborhood. Why should the city, and by extension the city’s taxpayers, subsidize these people, who could easily be living elsewhere in the 5 boroughs, with subway access? I understand the need to subsidize those who cannot work. No argument there. But if we are talking about “working people” as you say, would it violate their human rights to ask them to move to say, Sunset Park or Bay Ridge? Or is their doubled up living situation the responsibility of all of us? Because in order to provide more “affordable housing” the city is leaving money on the table. That money then needs to be made up for in the budget by city tax payers. How much do you pay in city taxes, Joel? No, don’t answer that. But do answer, what is the justification for this subsidy? There are working people living in far ends of Brooklyn and Queens, paying city taxes, subsidizing these other “working people” who get to live in Manhattan. Is that fair? Serious question.

  12. I don’t speak for Joel, but for me this is about community, a value that is inestimable for the character of New York, a value that is being supplanted by largely rootless transients everywhere in the Lower East Side. No prejudice against the upscale, but they do not seem to create the same kind of distinctive and long-term character, on the one hand, and on the other, their culture tends towards homogeneity, effacing all distinctions into one white-washing just like any other white-washed neighborhood. Again, no prejudice against white culture, but how many other unique neighborhoods have to be lost to this one monoculture’s spread?
    Prior the rezoning, the EV had very few air rights available for development. The rezoning itself capped even more restrictively, through most of the EV — except Avenue D and Houston, among a few other corridors.
    It is not surprising that the city chose its as-of-right upzoning on Avenue D, the last frontier of poverty in the EV. This was social engineering.
    Seriously consider: why did the city upzone D but not A, B, C, 1st, 2nd and 3rd? Why but that D faces the housing projects.
    When Joel describes an “imposition” it has to be taken in the context. The city’s rezone prohibits such large scale developments everywhere in the EV except D.
    You see, this 12-story hulk would not have been an economic imposition anywhere else in the largely already upscale EV *except on D*, and that’s exactly why the city imposed it right there on D. Their intent is to transform D in order to upscale that one area of the EV that has most resisted upscaling.
    It’s a program to eliminate low-income communities: economic cleansing. Once again, the point is not that market-rate developments are built, it’s that nowhere in the rest of the EV are allowed at that scale. Only on D. That’s the question. Why did the city prohibit development everywhere else in the EV, where it would have been more appropriate?
    When you figure that, then you get close to the orientation and culture of the current city administration.

  13. This is the lower east side where I used to remember it how it “used to be”. Long live the days where the bus stop was on 4th street and the cuchifrito place was on the corner of d and houston. Now it’s a high rise apartment in the sky!!!! Those that want to “move on up” should go to another place, not the LES. The LES will NEVER be the same. Look at what they did to Prospect Park Plaza in the summer of 2010. The rest of the 5 buildings came tumbling down and all for the sake of the all mighty dollar. Waterfront property is in big demand and what is near the water? Baruch and Riis and Wald. Get all of the has been’s and the poor out. Lady Liberty we gave you our poor and what did we get in return? A WHOLE LOT OF RHETORIC. People, you ain’t seen nothin yet.

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