More affordable housing could be coming to Williamsburg, but community leaders are critical of a development proposal that they believe does not go far enough to meet the neighborhood’s needs.
At a Community Board 1 Land Use Committee meeting, the city’s Department of Housing (HPD) proposed to build four mixed-income residential buildings on eight city-owned lots with a total area of about 22,000 square feet, on Maujer Street, Ten Eyck Street and Bedford Avenue, bringing online a total of 90 rental units of housing to Williamsburg.
Most of those units in the plan, 79 percent of them, were studio or one-bedroom apartments.
“There are not that many two bedroom units (in his plan) which are not conducive to big families,” said Community Board 1 Executive Committee member Del Teague. “There are hardly any units with two bedrooms. I see this as another situation where families will have to make do with a one-bedroom.”
The lots, located at 33 Ten Eyck Street, 37 Ten Eyck Street, 37-39 Maujer Street, and 354-358 Bedford Avenue, were part of the affordable building promises that came with the region’s waterfront rezoning in 2005 and were part of the Ten Eyck Maujer Urban Renewal area.
First proposed in 2007, the project, labeled “Williamsburg Apartments,” was bid out to several nonprofit housing developers in North Brooklyn, though the Manhattan-based Yuco Real Estate Company was awarded the contract and will work with HPD’s Low Income Rental Program to develop the site.
The buildings themselves all have a traditional brick exterior with large windows and a brownstone finish with amenities such as elevators, oak hardwood floors, a landscaped exterior garden and terrace, and an audio-video intercom system for screening guests. The Bedford Avenue site includes a community space at 422 square feet and a retail space of approximately 5,968 square feet.
Affordable housing levels remain a point of contention. HPD officials noted that the units would be in the 60 percent AMI (Area Medium Income) range, consisting of 59 units in the complex.
“A lot of work has been done on this and the whole idea is to provide affordable housing in Williamsburg,” said Jack Hammer, Director of HPD’s North Brooklyn Planning Office.
Community board members, while welcoming the security system and the rooftop space, raised objections to those levels when combined with the paucity of larger apartments and market rate rental prices for the community space.
“Our initial concern in HPD warding the sites to a private developer was how affordable the apartments would be to those most in need in our neighborhood,” said CB 1 member Esteban Duran. “Yuco should provide a lower AMI range to bring it in line with what local community based housing organizations would offer.”
HPD officials said that they may consider AMI levels as low as 40 percent and would reach out to community organizations and elected officials to market the community space which could be filled by a doctor’s office or a neighborhood nonprofit.
Community Board leaders indicated that HPD and Yuco Real Estate will return to the board in several months with more concrete plans for the project and a request to begin the ULURP process for the sites.