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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eric Bederman 212-863-5176 (HPD)
Christina Sanchez 212-227-2644 (HDC)
Rachaele Raynoff 212-720-3471 (DCP)




CITY PLANNING COMMISSIONER BURDEN, HPD COMMISSIONER CESTERO, HDC PRESIDENT JAHR, BUILDER/DEVELOPER JEFFREY LEVINE, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT MARKOWITZ AND COUNCILMEMBER STEPHEN LEVIN CELEBRATE COMPLETION OF THE LARGEST AFFORDABLE INCLUSIONARY ZONING DEVELOPMENT TO DATE

Ribbon Cutting Officially Opens Williamsburg Community Apartments;

347 Permanently Affordable Homes Newly Constructed On the Williamsburg Waterfront

Brooklyn, NY - City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin and Jeffrey Levine, Chairman of Levine Builders and Douglaston Development, at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Williamsburg Community Apartments, at North 6th Street and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The new apartment complex, constructed as part of a market-rate development known as The Edge, is the largest-ever inclusionary zoning project with a total of 347 affordable units targeted to households earning 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) or $56,520 for a family of four, as well as the largest affordable housing project along the Brooklyn waterfront.

The ribbon cutting event welcomed the tenants to their new homes while marking the success of the rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront which has transformed an old and underused industrial area into a vibrant new residential community offering both market-rate and affordable housing. The entire development contains 1.7 million square feet of affordable rental housing, market-rate condominiums, retail, below-grade parking, public piers, a waterfront walkway and parks.  

“We are thrilled to celebrate the official launch of the Williamsburg Community Apartments, with the support of both the HPD and HDC,” remarked Levine, who built and developed this project. “Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, the Department of City Planning along with HPD, which administers the program and makes it work, and the many other agencies whose vision helped to establish the new inclusionary zoning program, we were able to play a role in bringing this amazing development to the Brooklyn waterfront.” 

Commissioner Burden said: “The ribbon cutting for the Williamsburg Community Apartments is an incredibly exciting moment for the City and for the Williamsburg neighborhood. It wasn’t so long ago that this site was completely fenced off from the public and badly deteriorating. This important development epitomizes many of the goals of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning plan: a significant number of badly needed permanently affordable housing units, magnificent new public waterfront access and outstanding architecture. As the two miles of this waterfront is built out, providing great benefits of housing and public access to this neighborhood, the Williamsburg Community Apartments and the Edge raise the bar and set great standards for the future.”

“This new complex, a combination of market-rate and permanently affordable homes is a prime example of exactly how Inclusionary Zoning is designed to work,” added Commissioner Cestero. “Through rezoning this tract of long underused waterfront, we created powerful incentives that harness the real estate market and take advantage of the opportunity to maximize development while doing a world of good in this growing community. Inclusionary Zoning is a powerful tool designed to reap maximum benefits for the people of New York City in the years to come.”

The Williamsburg Community Apartments were developed under the City’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), which was launched by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2003.  The Plan, to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing by 2014, has resulted in more than 100,000 units financed to date, of which 23% are located in Brooklyn.

Along with more traditional incentives and financing packages designed to create and preserve affordable housing, the Administration focused on finding new land for affordable projects and harnessing the private market to create affordable housing. The Inclusionary Housing Program was expanded in 2005 when the City Planning Commission approved the rezoning of the area to promote the development of affordable housing such as the Williamsburg Community Apartments. Inclusionary Zoning provides a zoning floor area bonus which can be combined with financial subsidies to promote the creation and preservation of affordable housing.  Since 2003, 2,798 permanently affordable Inclusionary Housing units have been created or preserved, citywide.

“HDC responded to this opportunity creatively,” said HDC President Jahr. “We are proud of the lead role we have taken in financing this development; this is not only the first HDC-financed development in Williamsburg, it is the first project we financed in the rezoned Greenpoint-Williamsburg area.  This new affordable housing is already making a difference in this community, providing a permanently affordable option open to families who make no more than 80 percent of the area median income.”

“As one who promoted the concept of inclusionary zoning early on as a useful tool for creating affordable housing in Brooklyn and NYC, I applaud this project and all its partners, Mayor Bloomberg, HPD, HDC and City Planning, the City Council, Levine Builders and Douglaston Development and the local community,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “This is a real victory in the fight to preserve the economic diversity of Brooklyn and ensure that our borough remains 'proud home to everyone from everywhere'."

The Williamsburg Community Apartments project was financed with $25.690 million in taxable bonds issued by HDC which also provided $15.6 million in corporate reserves for permanent financing. The long-term debt is backed by the State of New York Mortgage Agency; the bonds achieved a rating of Aa2 (Moody’s) and AA (Standard and Poor’s). The New York City Housing Trust Fund provided a $12.145 million PLP New Construction loan and the City gave a grant from the Waterfront Infrastructure Fund totaling $3.5 million. In addition, the project received a 421a as-of-right tax abatement for 25 years. 

The affordable units are subject to New York’s Rent Stabilization Program, determining yearly rent increases.

Residents for the Williamsburg Community Apartments, located at 27 North 6th Street and 34 North 6th Street, have been chosen via a publicly advertised lottery, monitored by HDC, which started in late 2008.  To apply and be placed on a list for future consideration, please visit www.williamsburgcommunityapartments.com or contact 718-782-1102.

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About Levine Builders

Levine Builders, based in Douglaston, Queens and led by Jeffrey E. Levine, was founded in 1979. Levine Builders provides full construction management and general contracting services and has been involved in the construction and renovation of thousands of residential units and millions of square feet of commercial space throughout New York City. Its diversity and range of work includes luxury high-rise residential housing, hotels, affordable housing, assisted living facilities, as well as retail, mixed-use developments and historical renovation/restoration projects. www.levinebuilders.com

About Douglaston Development

Douglaston Development is a full-service real estate development company specializing in the development of residential, commercial and mixed-use projects. Founded by company chairman Jeffrey E. Levine, its management team possesses expertise in all facets of the development process including site acquisition, zoning entitlements, site planning, building design and development, equity and debt financings, marketing, sales and leasing. Douglaston Development’s expertise is evident in many successfully completed projects ranging from affordable housing to luxury high-rise condominiums to commercial properties to office buildings. www.douglastondevelopment.com

About Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan:

New York City’s affordable housing program to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing — enough to house half a million New Yorkers — is the most ambitious and productive in the nation—creating housing as well as jobs for New Yorkers. In April, 2010 the City reached the critical benchmark of 100,000 units financed—representing an investment of $4.5 billion to date by the City, not including roughly $5 billion in bonds issued by HDC.

Led by HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, the Plan has been recast to maintain production momentum while confronting head-on the economic challenges facing the City, the State, the housing industry, the financial sector and individual New Yorkers and their families. In order to fulfill the NHMP goal of 165,000 units, HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are responding to market realities and focusing on three primary goals: strengthening neighborhoods, expanding the supply of affordable and sustainable housing and stabilizing families by keeping them in their homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/about/plan.shtml.   

About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation or 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 100,000 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd. 

About the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC):

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) provides financing for the creation and preservation of multi-family affordable housing throughout the five boroughs of New York City. HDC’s programs are designed to meet the wide range of affordable housing needs of the City's economically diverse population. In partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HDC works to finance Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace plan to create of preserve 165,000 affordable housing units by 2014. HDC is rated AA by S&P and Aa2 by Moody’s and is the nation’s #1 issuer of multi-family bonds. www.nychdc.com

About the Department of City Planning (DCP):

The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth and development in the City, in part, by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography and public space. www.nyc.gov/planning

About the Inclusionary Housing Plan:

The original Inclusionary Housing Program, part of New York City's zoning since 1987, was confined mainly to Manhattan's highest density districts, where it remains applicable today. In 2005, the Inclusionary Housing Program was expanded to promote affordable housing in areas being rezoned to encourage housing development at medium and high densities, such as Greenpoint-Williamsburg. This expanded program allows the combination of a zoning floor area bonus with a variety of housing subsidy programs, creating a powerful incentive for the development and preservation of a higher proportion of affordable housing. Developments taking advantage of the full 33 percent bonus in the new program must devote at least 20 percent of their residential floor area to housing that will remain permanently affordable to lower-income households.  Qualifying affordable units must be affordable to households at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income, with lower income levels reachable through combination with different subsidy programs. (In certain special districts, a portion of units may be targeted to higher incomes if a greater percentage of affordable units is provided.) Within three years of the first rezoning to introduce the expanded program, approximately 1,770 units of affordable housing have either been built or are in development. Read more: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/inclusionary_housing/index.shtml 




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