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Massive affordable housing development opens in Brownsville

A rendering of Ebenezer Plaza. The two buildings in front are now open
Rendering by Perkins Eastman

Hundreds of new affordable housing units have come to Brownsville, thanks to local do-gooders who paid millions to develop the long-time-coming Ebenezer Plaza development. 

The first phase of the project opened Friday atop two lots — one at 672 Powell St. and the other at 96 New Lots Ave, housing a combined 315 units of affordable housing units. 

The units at 672 Powell St. are reserved for households with earnings below 60 percent of the Area Median Income, as defined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The housing lottery for that building opened in February 2020, with studios going for as little as $367 per month, while the most expensive three-bedrooms rented at $1,472.

The other building on the block, 96 New Lots Ave, is targeted at a slightly-higher 80 percent of the AMI. The cheapest studios rent for $362 per month, while the most expensive three-bedrooms are going for $2,037.

Unlike most other developments with affordable units, there are no market rate apartments in the complex, as the organization behind the project, the Church of God of East Flatbush, specifically conjured up the idea to help local residents, rather than turn a profit. 

The church purchased the lot in 2011 for $8.18 million and sold it in 2016 to an LLC for $12.6 million with the intention of developing it as 100 percent affordable, according to city property records. 

Ebenezer Plaza Owner LLC is made up of the church, along with affordable housing developers Brisa Builders Corporation, Procida Companies, and Evergreen City LLC.

After the sale, the owners then sought and won a rezoning needed for the project to proceed. 

The buildings were designed by the architecture firm Perkins Eastman.

The Church of God will be opening a new, 40,000 square foot church on-site, nestled between the two buildings in both ground-floor and basement space. The new digs, expected to open this coming spring, are quadruple the size of the Church’s current home on E. 95th Street. 

The development also includes about 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

A second phase of the project is currently under construction, and is expected to bring an additional 200 below-market-rate units to the area.

The size of the project marks a boost to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build at least 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026, as will other large scale proposals, such as the proposed Gowanus Rezoning, and the heated proposal to change the land use rules in Manhattan’s SoHo, which both figure to bring hundreds of new below-market-rate units to their respective areas.

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