For the purposes of this review, Lower Manhattan will be defined as falling within the borders of Community Board 1 (CB1) — collection of neighborhoods, usually thought of as Battery Park City, Tribeca, the Financial District, Tribeca, the South Street Seaport, and the Civic Center, encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets and the Brooklyn Bridge.
56 Fulton Street:
24 affordable units, out of 120 apartments
During 2014, 2015, and 2016, Lower Manhattan absorbed 2,872 new apartments, divided among 30 buildings (some of which were new construction, others of which were conversion of former office towers), according to a 2016 analysis prepared by the staff of CB1. This translates to a local rate of creation for affordable housing of slightly less than 5 percent among all new apartments. (For 2017 and the next few years, the same analysis forecasts an additional 4,022 apartments coming online in Lower Manhattan.)
Put another way, the de Blasio administration points with pride to its record since 2014 of having preserved 52,000 affordable homes, and having begun construction of 25,000 more. The 143 units located in Lower Manhattan represent slightly less than one-fifth of one percent of this City-wide total, or roughly one out of every 550 new affordable homes created throughout New York City.
118 Fulton Street:
97 affordable units, out of 483 apartments
Because Downtown is an increasingly affluent area, it would be an intuitive to conclude that affordable housing in necessarily more difficult to create or preserve here. But this seems not to be the case in other, similarly fashionable districts. For example, Community Board 2 — which covers Manhattan north of Canal Street, south of 14th Street, and west of a line extending from the Bowery through Fourth Avenue, including neighborhoods such as the West Village and SoHo — saw the creation or preservation of 268 units of affordable housing in five buildings during the same period.
And Community Board 7 — the Upper West Side, or Manhattan between 59th and 110th Streets, between Central Park and the Hudson River — benefitted from the creation or preservation of 991 affordable housing units in 14 separate buildings.
|Anthony Notaro: “Preserving what affordable housing we have is a critical goal for us, as it should be for the City administration. But we often find that developers are either converting rentals or even commercial buildings with little thought about a portion apportioned to affordable housing.”|
Patrick Kennell: “This proves what housing advocates in this community have been shouting for years: That we must put an enormous emphasis on preserving and protecting the current stock of affordable and stabilized housing we do have. We can’t afford to lose any more units, because it’s unlikely many more will be built in this area.”
Patrick Kennell, who chairs CB1’s Land Use, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee, said, “we’ve always known it’s a challenge in CB1 to create new affordable housing, because so much space is developable as-of-right. This figure shows there is much more to be done, and it proves what housing advocates in this community have been shouting for years: That we must put an enormous emphasis on preserving and protecting the current stock of affordable and stabilized housing we do have. We can’t afford to lose any more units, because it’s unlikely many more will be built in this area, as the map shows.”
Tom Goodkind, chair of CB1’s Housing Sub-Committee, observed that, “affordable housing isn’t only about lower income, but all incomes. It allows for a sustainable community. The Mayor must do something about allowing those who create a community to keep their homes.”
Tom Goodkind: “Affordable housing isn’t only about lower income, but all incomes. It allows for a sustainable community. This really locks out most of our locals who are retiring, or working on a smaller salary, and looking to stay in our community. It gives little chance to remain. The question is: Who is listening to us? Who is representing us?”
He continued, “while I appreciate the Mayor’s push toward creating more affordable housing, the new rules [of the 421a affordable housing program] no longer give 50 percent preference to locals — a tremendous defeat for any community. That, coupled with the 80 percent of area median income [AMI] the Mayor is using, which means you can’t earn more than $53,400 a year, really locks out most of our locals who are retiring, or working on a smaller salary, and looking to stay in our community. It gives little chance to remain.”
456 Washington Street:
22 affordable units, out of 107 apartments
“Our Community Board has advocated a higher AMI to allow college graduates of local families, and those retiring, and any other locals who need a break from high rent or mortgage payments a chance to stay put,” Mr. Goodkind concluded. “The question is: Who is listening to us? Who is representing us?”
The locations of the new affordable units in Lower Manhattan described here are new buildings at 456 Washington Street (in Tribeca), 118 Fulton Street (in the Financial District), and 56 Fulton Street (near the South Street Seaport). The building at 456 Washington Street offers 22 affordable units, out of 107 apartments. The tower at 118 Fulton Street contains 97 affordable apartments, out of 483 dwellings. And the building at 56 Fulton Street has 24 affordable homes, out of 120 units.
All 143 units within CB1 are set aside for a category known as “low income,” which is actually a demographic middle zone, situated above “very low income,” and “extremely low income.” To qualify for the low-income category, applicants must meet the AMI threshold Mr. Goodkind described. The developers of each of these buildings received government-sponsored benefits, such as zoning variances, tax abatements, or preferred-rate financing, in exchange for including the affordable units in their plans.
To review the City’s map of affordable housing creation and preservation, click here.