The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This Is What Indifference Gets You

Those of you who've walked down Clarkson Ave recently must have noticed how dang much demolition and construction is happening. 195 Clarkson was two wood-frames that are about to become this:

195 Clarkson Rendering
Notice anything about the people in the rendering? That's right! None of them are fat! And none of them tucked in their tops. The discrimination against fat tuckers continues. (Ever noticed how men of from the South are way more likely to tuck than their northern counterparts? Belts are more common as well, as befits a man who likes to tuck.)

Oh, and once again, none of these units will be means-tested a/k/a below market/rent stabilized.


roxv said...

and once again with flimsy-looking over-hanging balconies, ugh. not looking forward to the day that we have a 4th ave fallen concrete situation on our hands

Clarkson FlatBed said...

And RoxV...what's up with those balconies anyway? Have you EVER seen anyone hanging out on them? Casually watching the B12 go by? Hardly a Daddy Warbucks feature. More like bicycle and barbecue storage...for us all to enjoy.

Speaking of which, I remember many years ago visiting a friend's mom in one of those FL condos by the beach. I placed my towel on the balcony to dry. We got a notice from the Condo Board reminding us that towels are not permitted on the balconies. Unsightly, I guess.

Ah, America.

Stephen Smith said...

Tim – you don't know enough about the NYC real estate industry to be pontificating the way you do. The density of the filing (floor area ratio of 3.3) suggests that the developer is taking advantage of the inclusionary housing density bonus, and that the project will therefore be 80/20. This means that all of the units will be rent-stabilized, with 20% of them starting at vastly below-market rates, and the remaining 80% starting at market but having their rent increases regulated for the length of the 421-a tax abatement. (In fact, they're sort of "super-stabilized," since they cannot be deregulated via luxury or vacancy decontrol as long as the landlord is still getting the 421-a tax break. Which, by the way, is not that much more generous than the by-right tax break that owners of small buildings like your own receive, without any rent stabilization requirement at all.)

Furthermore, you don't seem to understand that "means-tested," "below-market" and "rent stabilized" are not the same thing. Many rent stabilized apartments are below-market (but not all), but they are not really means-tested. You need to make well into the six digits for two years in a row, and your landlord has to prove it (which is all but impossible, since rent-stabilized tenants are not required to submit income proof for lease renewals), and the legal regulated rent has to rise above a certain threshold (I think it's $2,700 now? I can't remember), in order for you to get kicked out of a rent-stabilized apartment. In effect, they are not means-tested.

I get that you – like many gentrifier homeowners who gain mightily from NYC's housing shortage-induced, ever-rising property values and insanely low property tax rates – hate the real estate industry, but please do a little bit of homework before you hit "post."

Anonymous said...

All things considered, the building design could be MUCH worse. The balconies are terrible, and could end up scratched because they are overhanging the sidewalk which might come up with a zoning complaint (all depends on the reviewer). No one will ever be on that balcony unless they are smoking or cooking, but for some reason developers always love them. The entourage is terrible... There are so many sites that offer diverse figures for free! Just no excuse for the profession to continue being so damn white washed in our renderings.

Stephen Smith said...

And roxv – I'm very impressed by your ability to determine the integrity of a structure like a balcony simply by looking at a rendering!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I stand corrected then. I was told differently. And you're right, I don't know the law on this.

That said, you don't know shit about where I'm coming from. I'm all for more housing. I'm running quite counter to a lot of the gentrifier AND longtimer crowd on that. I really don't care about home value. It's already way-the-eff more than I paid for it and it's actually kind of embarrassing to make so much money off others' misery. And if it's like you say, "affordable housing," then i can forgive the balconies. And I hope you'll forgive me.

See how easy that is? But I still think you're wrong about the stabilized, affordable part. We'll see, won't we? You know the zoning on this lot?

Btw, this building looks pretty much exactly like all the stuff I see in Crown Heights, so I'm not surprised at all by the design.

Who are you, anyway? Neighbor?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Stephen Smith. I see. You're this guy:

Welcome to The Q. You'll find my opinions don't exactly match your stereotype. Tweet away, baby!

Creepy Burger King said...

Why is the white building to the right taller than the darker building on the left?

Why is the white building in the middle taller than the darker building on the left ?

Do we see a pattern developing here?

Anonymous said...

Stephen Smith: The developer is not taking advantage of the Inclusionary Housing Bonus. We do not have an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area in Brooklyn CD 9.

Furthermore, a developer taking advantage of 421a tax abatement (before it expired) in PLG did not need to build any affordable units because we were outside of the Geographic Exclusion Area. There is no reason to believe this building is going to provide any affordable units… or benefit from 421a if the foundation isn't already poured.

The fact that this building is designed with a 3.3 Floor Area Ratio is apparent within the building permit it seems you considered. The lot is partially zoned R6 and partially zoned R7-1.

I did enjoy you taking Tim to task for his arbitrary use of "means-tested."

Anonymous said...

Also, someone might want to complain to the Department of Buildings that this building is required to have 18 parking spaces (36% R6 zoning requires parking for 70% of the units and 64% R7-1 zoning requires parking for 60%). Only 10 are planned for in the permit. If the renderings are accurate, the half of the building appears to break the 60' street wall limit.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon 10:12: So what would YOU call a unit that asks your income in order to get below-market rates?

Anonymous said...

I would call it affordable housing because that is the term used by HUD and our policy makers to describe such a unit. I think calling income-linked housing 'affordable' does us a disservice because it is often not affordable to most New Yorkers. In principle I agree with our legislators that we should be building regulated housing for low to moderate (and maybe even middle) incomes. I just think that it should be clear to the layman that that's the policy. I also think our policy propiorities should be for those most in need. People in the Extremely Low and Very Low income categories are the most rent-burdened in our city. Housing them in new, renovated, and existing units should come first.

Anonymous said...

I heard all these buildings in Brooklyn have the tiny, otherwise unused balconies solely to provide a place to build a sukkah, if a resident requires one.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Most units in Brooklyn built as affordable rent for around $1,000 for a family. I'm sorry, Anon, but anything less than that these days is essentially City Housing. Projects, if you will, or the modern version of same. These 80/20 buildings are being built by the for-profit sector, and the idea is that the developers don't lose money on them. People saying $1,000 a month for an apartment in NYC is not "affordable" would be surprised to learn what most people are paying for rent stabilized units these days around here. Sure, if you've been there for thirty years maybe you're paying $600 or so. But it's becoming rarer, particularly as leases change hands.

$1,000 a month is affordable for a working family, even low income, with two earners. Not easy - nothing is easy in NYC for anyone but the rich. And income below, say $30K, should be much more heavily subsidized, and in fact, is. City housing for low incomes should be a MAJOR priority, but knocking these buildings for doing what they're designed to do suggests that teachers, service industry workers and City employees should not be a priority for the City too. I know tons of people making $40K - $100K and increasingly they cannot afford NYC. Actual experts get this; they, not the developers, are driving the policies that so many fortunate home owners are dissing.

Let's repeat: Developers like building market rate apartments. They will only build affordable when they REQUIRED TO or when it makes financial sense. So either we decide as an electorate to pay for it, or stop the nonsense about corrupt policies.

There's room for improvement. But let's not cut off the nose to spite the face. And let's not forget the middle class of NYC, the working people who make this the great City that it is.

diak said...

Re balconies for sukkahs: The balconies on the building in the photo won't cut it. As I understand it, a site for a sukkah has to be, the sages have declared, open to the sky. That's why you see those buildings in Borough Park and Williamsburg with balconies alternating in a kind of odd-even pattern so no balcony has another one directly above it.

Even stranger are some cookie-cutter buildings I've seen going up in Sunset Park. They have tiny balconies that are accessible via a solid door that looks just like the front door of a suburban house. The effect is of a door to nowhere... multiplied by something like 20 apartments.

Anonymous said...

Tim, please back up your assertion that "most units in Brooklyn built as affordable rent for around $1,000 for a family." I would love to see some statistics on that.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

It's not an assertion. It's a fact. Actually, I overdid it. Most 80/20 units in Brooklyn rent for less than $1,000, as they're typically tied to an income of around $40-$50K. 626 Flatbush is a very typical scenario. It looks like this:

The partially built 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has just started taking applications for affordable rentals, according to developer Hudson Companies. Rents for the 51 subsidized units start at $565 for a studio, $607 for a one-bedroom, $736 for two bedrooms and $843 for three bedrooms.

And income requirements range from $19,371 for a single person and go as high as $50,100 for a family of six. Half of the affordable apartments will be reserved for current residents of Community Board 9. (The area covers southern Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate and part of North Flatbush.) Potential renters can fill out this application and send it in by May 25.

You've bought the bullshit. Affordable means affordable because it's tied to income. At 1/3 of your income, an apartment is affordable. If it's less than market, that's affordable housing.

The reason I prefer means-tested is because that is accurate. Yes, some "affordable housing" is tied to higher incomes and the apartments rent higher. But they are by far the minority, and the stats only get trotted out to scare people from 80/20.

Apparently you don't know people living in these buildings. I do, and no one pays more than $1,000 in Brooklyn.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh, and if you think otherwise, please share YOUR statistics. I don't think you'll have much luck.

Anonymous said...

Exactly my point. There are no statistics for how much these "affordable" units are renting for.
Where did you even come up with the number $1,000?
Just because you keep repeating it doesn't make it true.

626 Flatbush is hardly a typical example. AMONG the subsidies Hudson received was $72 million in tax-exempt bonds from HFA, which REQUIRED them to build LOW INCOME housing. So, yes, 51 apartments are affordable for Low Income families.

382 Lefferts Ave is the only other "affordable" building I know of in CD 9 that held a housing lottery in 2015. The studios go for $1,909. One bedrooms are $2,047 and two bedrooms are $2,465. Income requirements are so high that only a small fraction of the people living in our zip code would qualify and they wouldn't want to live there anyway.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

You know darn right 382 Lefferts is from an entirely different program based on finishing buildings after the crash in 2008. It's a red herring, and you're pushing bad and old propaganda. Get your fact straight.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

This is what drives me absolutely bonkers about the no-new-housing crowd. First, they're not stopping market rate housing from being built AT ALL. There's still tons of development rights to be taken advantage of. All around Empire, if not on Empire, you're seeing tons of units go up. All market rate. Not the worst thing in the world but there it is. But god forbid you should touch Empire and/or get some affordable. It's totally insane.

Then they pull out anomalies to prove that affordable housing doesn't work. They talk about poor doors (which are illegal) or scare people with AMI of $80K. But it's mostly 50% or 60% of AMI that's the cap. Cap! That means people making over 50K CAN'T get this 1/3 of your income housing. And yes, in large mixed income developments some of the homes will go to people making more than $100K, but they'll be paying way more and helping subsidize the building.

Do any of you do math? Have you ever run a business? Do you even know WHY serious Urban Planners talk about these things? Or are you all conspiracy theorists who think everyone working for the de Blasio administration is bought and sold by developers?

When are people going to get it in their thick heads that you don't solve a housing crisis by being stingy with housing? And growth creates jobs for chrisakes. I feel like I'm living in some weird topsy turvy universe where the liberals suddenly forgot that actual people need actual jobs and homes. Where the eff are they supposed to live and work? Utica?

Meanwhile, most of the NIMBYists sit in their beautiful single-family extravagantly priced homes, sitting on tons of equity, bitching about the "light and air," and sounding the alarm about subways that aren't even at capacity. Sorry! You might have to wait for the next train now and then at rush hour. This is NOT a crisis. (You want crisis go live on the L - THEY have a reason to gripe.)

A real crisis is when hard-working people can't afford a decent apartment. THAT'S a crisis. A few more people on the subway platform is not a friggin' crisis. It's opportunity, growth and a chance for people entering the workforce to earn a decent paycheck.

The other version of crisis? The City becomes undesirable and everyone leaves, including the jobs. NOW you get your affordable housing. Is that what you want?

JMB said...


MikeF said...

In a few years, some people will look back at all this and state "if only we had done something then!".

Meanwhile, other people will have a more positive outlook: They have reached the decision that they do not exercise that degree of control over the world around them.

...some will have moved to more affordable cities.