The words “affordability” and “financial district” don’t exactly conjure images of compatibility. But sure enough, affordable housing does exist in the FiDi (the cool way to say “financial district”), and we used the DOB’s new active construction website to locate the site, also known as 19 Dutch. Don’t get us wrong, the new DOB construction website is terrific, but for working the beat, not so much. It has problems with Chrome and frequently crashes, and a navigation feature would be nice. Construction on the project is nearing completion, with the facade installation just about done. The real question, however, is affordability.
Statutory affordability refers to a legal mandate to set aside a specific number of apartments in residential construction, with initial rents that are below market rate. Affordable units are most often associated with Voluntary and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, and in the 421-a Geographic Exclusion Area (GEA) context. This particular residential construction happens to be situated within a GEA, also embedded within an Inclusionary Housing zone (here, voluntary). Building in a GEA mandates that in exchange for a 421-a tax benefit, the owner must set aside a certain percentage (here, 20%) of affordable units. A similar rule exists for constructing within an Inclusionary Housing zone. When a project exists within both zoning areas, and the owner engages both programs, the lawyers for all interested parties get together and cobble together a regulatory agreement (here, between HPD (Housing Preservation and Development) and the owner) to sort out the differences between the two programs. Keep in mind though, regulatory agreements are generally drafted even if the owner engages just one of the programs, it’s just that in this circumstance, the regulatory agreement must address any competing differences between the two programs.
But what is affordable? AMI (Area Median Income) is the metric used to determine just how affordable the units are. In New York City, the AMI for a single person is $73,100. So if you make above that, consider yourself a hero. Some affordable housing projects are targeted at that price range. However here, the owner decided to target the 60% AMI range. The next step is to determine the actual dollar amount of rent, which is detailed in the regulatory agreement. There are different approaches to rent setting depending on the type housing program. For GEA projects such as this, HPD, who administers the 421-a program, publishes the yearly maximum rents associated with a tenant’s AMI percentage. Interesting, this owner decided to charge considerably less than what could have been charged, perhaps because of additional tax incentives. Let’s check out the income levels and rental price schedule for the project:
In total, there will 483 units, 97 of which will be affordable. Owned by “CP V TS Fulton Owner, LLC” (developed by Carmel Partners) and constructed by Gibane Building Company, the mammoth 764 foot structure should come online spring 2020.
Here’s the approximate size breakdown for each variety of apartment: for a studio, the living space is approximately 15′ by 14′; for a one bedroom, the living space is about 12′ by 20′, with the bedroom 10′ by 12′; for a two bedroom, the living space is about 16′ by 12′, with the master bedroom about 12′ by 12′, and the second bedroom 10′ by 13′.
Considering how complete the building already looks, the nearly two year wait between now and spring 2020 indicates there’s still plenty of interior work remaining. However, considering the general lack of serious DOB violations, the projected completion data is realistic. As an added bonus of the housing programs, the affordable units must be registered with the DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) as rent stabilized.