East New York has been slated for Bill de Blasio’s first major rezoning, intended to make room for more affordable housing and – more speculatively, given that demand is not yet high enough to warrant it – mixed-income projects with market-rate housing.
But for now, the only new market-rate construction (aside from the odd spec medical office building) is coming in the only form that’s allowed: small three-family homes.
Yesterday, an application was filed to construct a new building at 2764 Fulton Street, in the Cypress Hills subsection of East New York. The permit calls for a small four-story mixed-use building, with 800 square feet of retail topped by three 800-square foot apartments. The developer is Great Neck-based Shahriar Davaran, while the architect is Leder-Luis Architectural Design, based in Yonkers.
The de Blasio administration only appears interested in large subsidized buildings or projects with below-market set-asides, requiring large capital investments. This is a shame given the untested market for the latter, and because market-rate two- and three-family buildings like 2746 Fulton Street are a tried and true building form for neighborhoods like East New York that already pencil out, adding genuinely affordable market-rate units with new construction finishes whose rents are not that far above the neighborhood average.
When the de Blasio administration surveyed the neighborhood in advance of their upcoming rezoning, they found that the going rate for new leases ranged from around $1,000 a month for studios to $1,950 for three-bedroom apartments. This is not far off from rents in two- and three-family buildings erected just a few years ago – on Craigslist right now you can find a two-bedroom for $1,750, or a three-bedroom with very modern finishes for just $1,795. While the administration and housing activists will claim that is not affordable to the average East New Yorker, the fact remains that units are renting every day at these prices to the middle-class black, Latino and South Asian individuals and families who are moving in, evidently able to qualify for the apartments.
The administration’s plans for small parcels like this one, just 25 feet wide, are unclear. They are far too small to participate in traditional inclusionary housing programs (what’s a 20 percent affordability set-aside if you only have three units?), and they’re of no interest to affordable housing builders, who won’t bid for lots this small (the project is set to replace a decaying home built as a single-family, and acquired for $245,000 in 2014). It’s possible that existing construction of this sort could continue, though it seems unlikely that the administration would allow developers to take advantage of the new zoning, which is slated to be R6A in this area, or more than twice the density of this building.
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