FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, FOREST CITY RATNER AND ACORN ANNOUNCE HISTORIC AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGREEMENT FOR ATLANTIC YARDS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Forest City Ratner Companies President & CEO Bruce C. Ratner and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) Executive Director Bertha Lewis today announced that approximately half of the 4,500 new rental units in the proposed Atlantic Yards development will be set aside for low- and moderate-income households using financing tools created by the Bloomberg Administration's New Housing Marketplace plan. As part of the City's $3 billion housing plan to build and rehabilitate 68,000 affordable housing units, programs were designed to spur the creation of mixed-income housing. The current proposal for Atlantic Yards follows the model employed by the Mayor's Housing Plan, and establishes a new standard for income diversity that is a result of an innovative collaboration among the City, Forest City Ratner and ACORN. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan, and Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Emily Youssouf attended the announcement at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
"While we can't wait to watch our new home town team play in a spectacular new arena designed by Frank Gehry, it's the jobs and housing that will have the greatest impact on the borough and people of Brooklyn," said Mayor Bloomberg. "When Forest City Ratner and ACORN approached us with this unique proposal, we worked together to tailor a plan around HDC's Mixed-Income Program in order to create more affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers at all income levels - and that's something we can all cheer about."
"Brooklyn is now the national model for urban development," said Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz. "Brooklyn has a history of setting the standard for social progress and today, we do so again on the issue that is most critical to Brooklynites and to all New Yorkers - creating desperately needed affordable housing. Because in addition to the thousands of new jobs, the economic development, the landmark architecture, and of course the arrival of the Brooklyn Nets - the reason Atlantic Yards works for Brooklyn is because it will help maintain our economic diversity. This is truly a historic victory for the affordable housing movement in Brooklyn and America - let's keep the momentum going!"
As part of the plan, the Administration worked with Forest City Ratner and ACORN to increase the amount of financing provided in order to construct larger buildings with more units and to make the apartments as affordable as possible to families with a range of incomes. Under the Mixed-Income Program, at least 20% of the units in the new development must be reserved for low-income households (with gross annual household income for a family of four under $31,400). At least 15% of these low-income units must be set aside for very low-income families (with income for a family of four under $25,120). Approximately 30% of the other units would be set aside for "middle-income" families (with income ranging from $37,680 to $100,480, based on a household size of four, paying 30% of their income in rent).
As with all City-sponsored housing, there will be a lottery for the affordable units. In the lottery, 50% of the units will be set aside for community residents. In this case, the developer is also considering setting aside 10% percent of the affordable rental units for income-eligible senior citizens. HDC's Mixed-Income Program combines the use of tax-exempt private activity bonds with a second mortgage offered at a 1% interest rate to finance multi-family rental housing. Assuming the necessary State approvals are obtained in a timely manner, construction on the new housing could begin in Summer of 2006.
"From the beginning, we believed that housing would be an integral part of the Atlantic Yards project," said Forest City Ratner President Bruce Ratner. "But we did not imagine at the time that we would, in fact, be able to establish what is truly a new and innovative way to develop housing. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, ACORN and so many others committed to enhancing housing in Brooklyn, we've created a program that ensures that people in all economic brackets have access to these apartments, retaining the character of the borough and the City, and I believe creating a better environment for all who reside there."
"This proposal is great for all of New York and demonstrates how Brooklyn is leading the way in residential development," said Bertha Lewis, executive director of ACORN. "With this project, all New Yorkers, including working people who are the backbone of this great city, will have access to these apartments. We are fortunate that our elected officials recognize that there is a housing crisis for low and moderate income New Yorkers."
In March of 2005, the City and State signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Forest City Ratner to proceed with the historic development of the Atlantic Yards project at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. Under the MOU, the State and the City will each contribute $100 million in capital contributions to fund site preparation and public infrastructure improvements on and around the arena site including streets, sidewalks, utility relocations, environmental remediation, open space and public parking. The $2.5 billion project will include a Frank Gehry designed world-class arena that would be the home court of the Brooklyn Nets, which Forest City Ratner and investors purchased earlier this year, and mixed-income housing, along with commercial, retail and six acres of new public open space. The development will span 21 acres and is adjacent to Atlantic Terminal, which is the third-largest transportation hub in New York City with nine different subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road converging. The primary existing use on the proposed site is a rail storage yard for the Long Island Railroad.
The project is expected to create over 12,000 construction jobs and approximately 8,500 permanent jobs. According to an economic analysis completed earlier this year for the City's Economic Development Corporation, the net fiscal benefit to the City and State from the Atlantic Yards project is estimated at $1 billion in present value over the next thirty years.
More than 26,000 of the 68,000 homes and apartments to be created or preserved as part of the Administration's New Housing Marketplace plan are already in the development pipeline. That is about 40% of the total during the first two years of the five-year plan, putting the Administration on track to meet its goal. HDC's Mixed-Income Program began two years ago and is responsible for financing over 700 new units of affordable housing.
Edward Skyler/Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Carol Abrams (Housing Preservation & Development)
Joe DePlasco (Forest City Ratner) (212) 981-5125
Bertha Lewis (ACORN) (718) 246-7900