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The city wants to transfer three vacant lots in Bedford-Stuyvesant to a pair of development companies to build 85 very affordable housing units, which builders’ representatives say will benefit existing residents in the gentrifying neighborhood.
“We all know the real big deal is that the market housing that kind of blew us up has attracted a lot of people and we’ve seen a lot of Bed-Stuy residents leave,” Gordon Bell, an executive with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation told members of the Community Council’s Land Use Committee 3. “So we’re going to do something that is supposed to support the interest of the community – the interest of the current community.”
The preservation and development of the city’s housing requires the approval of the city council to disburse properties collectively nicknamed “Dekalb Commons”, which consist of two lots on Dekalb Avenue between Marcy and Nostrand avenues, and a smaller vacant lot on Fulton Street between Bedford Avenue and Spencer Place. The properties would be transferred to the Bell company and a Williamsburg nonprofit developer called the St. Nicks Alliance.
The approximately $ 50 million development program includes two seven-story buildings, one adjacent to the Kosciuszko Public Pool at 648-654 Dekalb Ave. housing 45 units, and one across the street at 633-639 Dekalb Ave. with 37 units, ranging from studios to three bedroom apartments, as well as a 700 square foot community room located on the ground floor.
Both sites would have full backyards with a children’s play area and seating.
The third site would house a four-story building at 1187 Fulton St., and would include three bedrooms on top of 1187 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
The two Dekalb Avenue sites will set rents based on the median income of the federally designated area, with rates ranging from $ 535 per month for a studio to $ 2,143 for a three-bedroom, and will reserve 13 units for former homeless residents at a reduced rate between $ 375 for a studio and $ 672 for a three bedroom.
On Fulton Street, two-bedroom units will cost around $ 1,862 per month, and the higher cost will help fund the cheaper units in the other two buildings, according to Bell.
But before the developers can innovate, the two companies and the city will have to get the proposal through the city’s lengthy land use review process, and they want to present the project at the meeting of the Community Board 3 Board of Directors in February.
Officials anticipate council approval pending a public review process by the fall of this year, which would put builders on track to complete construction by 2023.
The development is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial 2014 plan to add 300,000 so-called “affordable housing” units by 2026. His administration added 135,000 units in July 2019, according to the city.
Critics of the hizzoner’s plans have argued that the area’s median income – which is calculated on a regional basis to include the whole town and parts of Westchester – does not accurately reflect the wages of families in parts of the town , where the average income is often much lower than the MAI. For example, a recent public land transfer proposal targeting residents who earned up to twice the median household income in Bedford-Stuyvesant.