Permits Filed: 494 Fountain Avenue, East New York

494 Fountain Avenue (empty lot at center, across from NYCHA projects), image from Bing Maps494 Fountain Avenue (empty lot at center, across from NYCHA projects), image from Bing Maps

It’s a common refrain among those in New York City’s anti-development left that market-rate builders are only willing to build luxury housing. Anyone who reads YIMBY on a daily basis knows this is not true – there is in fact tremendous interest in building in affordable neighborhoods beyond the gentrifying fringe, as with the handful of Bronx projects we write about every week.

But perhaps no project is more illustrative of the lengths that developers will go to build in reasonably priced neighborhoods – if, that is, they’re allowed, which they’re usually not – than a filing we saw today to construct a small, three-story apartment building at 494 Fountain Avenue, on the edge of the Spring Creek subsection of East New York, not far from the Brooklyn-Queens border.

Developed by Yotam Michaeli with Atkins Partners and designed by Shahriar Afshari, the building would have 14 apartments spread over nearly 10,000 square feet of space. It would include five garage parking spaces and four open air spaces – the minimum required by zoning.

Seven-tenths of a mile by foot to the 3 train terminus at New Lots Avenue in one direction and the Euclid Avenue A/C stop in another, across the street from the Cypress Hill Houses, 494 Fountain Avenue is about as far from the parts of eastern Brooklyn that might gentrify within the next decade or two as you can get. The names on deeds on nearby streets are West African, South Asian, West Indian, and Hispanic, hinting at the likely tenant mix should the project go forward. Unlike a filing we saw recently in Brownsville, the developer here is clearly not banking on renting units to hipsters in the foreseeable future.

While New York City needs development at all price points to ease its housing crisis, projects like this will go directly to the neediest market-rate renters (and, after the market cycle plays out, will go to even lower income families when the next downturn accelerates the process of filtering). While the units won’t be as cheap as those in a subsidized project, they will be far more accessible, open to anyone who makes 40 times the monthly rent and has good credit score, without the luck required to win a housing lottery – more than we can say about most other projects under development in the five boroughs.

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