Forest City breaks ground on 18-story Pacific Park building
by Jess Berry
Dec 17, 2014 | 3271 views | 0 0 comments | 129 129 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined elected officials and developers to break ground on the newest 18-story addition to Pacific Park, formerly known as Atlantic Yards.

The building at 535 Carlton Avenue has been boasted as “100 percent affordable” by the mayor, despite the fact that most of the apartments will be marketed to families making well over the area’s median income.

“For our community, which has seen not years, but decades of rising costs and gentrification, this development offers the chance to have a huge number of affordable units that people from this community can live in and continue to be Brooklynites,” de Blasio said at the groundbreaking.

Of the 298 apartments, 50 percent will be available for tenants making 165 percent of the area’s median income (AMI), which amounts to $83,900 for a family of four. An additional 15 percent will be for tenants making 145 percent of the AMI, 5 percent of units will be for those making 100 percent of the AMI, 25 percent of units for those making 60 percent of the AMI and five percent for those making 40 percent of the AMI.

In total, Pacific Park — a joint venture between Shanghai-based Greenland USA and Forest City Ratner Companies — will have 2,250 below-market-rate apartments available by 2025. Those units will contribute to the Mayor’s promised ten-year plan to add 200,000 affordable units in the city.

When asked about local residents’ concerns over density and the addition of an 18-story building to a neighborhood that is mostly populated with townhouses, the mayor said that as time goes on, people will “believe in it.”

“I've been all over this city as a candidate, now as mayor - there is no issue I hear more about from the people than the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing,” de Blasio said. “And if that requires height and density at appropriate locations, I think people will understand it. I think they'll embrace it, because they don't want to be forced out of their own city.”

He and the developers also assured those at the groundbreaking that the surrounding community was solicited for opinions throughout the process. A restructuring of the development agreement in June in particular allowed for more community feedback, said Empire State Development (ESD) President Ken Adams.

“It created an opportunity we hadn’t had in a long time, which was really quite significant,” he said, “a new chance for the community to voice concerns and interests in the project.”

But local residents strongly disagree, stating that they never had an opportunity to adequately voice their concerns.

Elisabeth Martin, who has lived on Carlton Avenue since 1997, has written letters and attended numerous meetings to request a few changes to the development that she and her neighbors feel would greatly ease the burden of the significant population increase in the community once the apartments go on the market.

Though the community had an outlet to voice their concerns, through the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Corporation (PHNDC), Martin said the group was of no help to her or her neighbors.

Martin and her neighbors are asking for a green buffer zone to go in front of the building, which would push the building back further off of the sidewalk and better integrate it into the similarly constructed townhouses on the street.

They also want to add affordable for-rent parking to the neighborhood, perhaps under 535 Carlton, to accommodate for the increase in vehicles in the area and the potential traffic issues.

The neighborhood has also written letters outlining concerns with the structural integrity of their homes, which are being violently shaken during construction work.

Martin said that, after numerous unsuccessful meetings and letters sent and unanswered, one meeting with an ESD executive seemed promising.

“They understood developing to prevent future problems, that we’re asking for things that are reasonable, that are feasible,” Martin said.

She was told after that meeting, which happened last week, that her and her neighbors would receive an official response to their requests in writing. They had not received any word by Monday’s groundbreaking.

The Mayor and ESD President Adams both painted a different picture, however, highlighting the creation of the new Pacific Park Community Development Corporation, which, the mayor said, “will speak for the community, connect for the community, that we in the city government will work with closely to make sure that this development works for everyone.”

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