5th Ave facility moves forward

A controversial supportive housing facility proposed for Fifth Avenue moved forward last week when the City Planning Commission gave its approval for the five-story, 49-unit building at what is currently a municipal parking lot on 16th Street.

“It’s very reassuring they saw the merits of the project,” Fifth Avenue Committee Executive Director Michelle de la Uz said after the May 23 vote.

Twenty-four studio units would provide supportive housing for mentally ill and formerly homeless people. Five others will house individuals with HIV/AIDS. The remaining apartments would be rented to community residents with incomes below $29,775. Senior citizens and youths becoming too old for foster care will be targeted for these units.

Some neighbors have objected to the project on the grounds that it presents a safety risk for the larger community.

And Borough President Markowitz had objected to the facility because it did not include any affordable housing units for families. As a result, he had asked the Planning Commission to vote it down.

But subsequent negotiations between some opponents and the Fifth Avenue Committee led to modifications that include putting the entrance on Fifth Avenue and selecting some local residents for the panel that will screen the tenants.

There will also be round-the-clock security at the front desk.

“There were some really intense conversations with elected officials. All of their concerns are addressed in the project,” de la Uz said. Marko­witz, however, did not get his family-sized units.

Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) said through a spokeswoman that “the modifications responded to the concerns of some of the neighbors of the project.”

DeBlasio said he will encourage his fellow Councilmembers to support the project when it comes to a full Council vote in the coming months.

It will first be discussed within 30 days by the Council’s land-use committee.