News from Williamsburg, Greenpoint, & Bushwick, Brooklyn, Queens and Beyond
One issue I have with the alternative "plan" that I never really see you write about has to do with financing. They would prefer, and their plan calls for higher density towers (20-25 story), which would contain 100% affordable, government subsidized apartments. What most of your articles fail to mention at all is that to a very great extent the number of stories a building has, and the percentage of affordable units a building has, is directly the result of the financing, or mix of tax credits and other subsidies from federal, state and city government, that the project was approved for. Ok, that being said, NO FINANCING exists that would allow anyone to build twenty five story towers with anything close to 75% affordable units, let alone 100%. This is just a simple fact. So why give them a pass on this issue? What it means essentially is that they don't have a "plan" at all, in as much as a plan means something that could actually happen. Ron Shiffman has conceded this point, but has argued that since Obama is now President, anything is possible. Really? My understanding is that while the Obama administration, and Donovan at HUD, will provide more money to build affordable housing, no radical rethinking of affordable housing financing is in the works. If anything, we should look to what was done here in NYC and imagine that Donovan would try to replicate that at the Federal level. What this means is that 25 story towers with 100% affordability are a protest strategy, not a plan, and are being used as a cudgel to beat UJO and RBSCC over the head with. So, if the alternative "plan" is not even viable given current financing for affordable housing, how can it be considered a real plan, and not merely just an opportunity for Los Sure and St. Nicholas to put their foot in the door and say, hey, our plan has more affordable housing than the City's does? The fact is that this project has been part of a lenghty process, namely the ULURP process, and it has received the support of the Community Board land use committee, and the full Community Board as well. Aaron, you know as well as anyone that while Marty Needleman has deemed himself the leader of all things pure and true, many of the people that voted for the City's plan (Ward Denis, Jaye Fox) actually know a great deal about urban planning and have no allegiance to Vito Lopez at all. Also, the ULURP process is actually a lenghty and involved process. Most other American cities have nothing like this. Other large developments have sought desperately to avoid ULURP. Why grant opponents their argument when it is so clearly without merit?
Stephen to answer your question: Why grant opponents their argument when it is so clearly without merit? DEMOCRACY!!!Thanks for giving your opinion but this isn't about $$$ or getting any non-profits foot in the door. But the City didn't even allow for that when it didn't offer an RFP. Plus the non profits that have been tapped to develop the Triangle (RBSCC and UJO) didn't want to hold another planning meeting which would've included more Latinos and African-Americans which they promised to do (Sept. 08) because they knew that there would be challenges to the "closed door" meetings that were held. If this really was an open process then why would there be actions taken to deny more input from the larger community that was requesting it? There are many issues that I hear politicians and non profits beg to have more community input. Well here we have the Triangle issue where the community is organizing for a chance to have the rezoning maximize affordability (1,800 Units > 900 units) and having more open space (like de-mapping Gerry Street in the alternative plan) BUT HPD & UJO & RBSCC are systematically ignoring them. Why is that Stephen? I respect Ward and Jaye but this isn't just about buildings and the Community Board doesn't reflect the demographics of the neighborhood which is 30% Latino. Money is important but just because current financing formulas won't fund the alternative plan doesn't mean that the opponents of the plan should be dismissed and are without merit. Maybe those financing formulas need to be revamped Stephen.
It seems to me that the opponents of the plan have had their position heard at dozens of different meetings. They have had the opportunity to speak to the Land Use Committee of the Community Board and to the Community Board itself on many different occassions. Unfortunately for them, the Community Board voted against them. But there was and still is a process. Last week they were given the opportunity to speak at a public hearing hosted by the Borough President. Soon the City Council will have hearings where they will present their view again and the City Council will vote for or against them. Again and again opponents of the City's plan have been allowed to speak, so where is the lack of democracy? My point above, which you don't address, is that if the "plan" put forward by opponents of the City's plan can't be financed, then it isn't really a plan. The City's plan is ready to go, which is significant, since it means that affordable housing will be built for community residents in the next couple of years, not at some hypothetical future date. It also means that people will be working on a significant construction project who might not otherwise have jobs during this economic downturn. Like I said above, the opponent's plan isn't really meant to be a viable plan as much as a protest strategy by Lose Sures and St. Nicholas to try and gum up the process (ULURP) and get a piece of the pie. Why else would they suggest a vision that isn't viable? Now that it seems like they are going to lose, they are getting desperate and have resorted to cheap insults and to threatening lawsuits. What a shame that these organizations are now going to try and stop the building of affordable housing by filing lawsuits that they know will never win.
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