[Two Trees] will provide an additional 110,000 square feet of affordable housing as part of the project, for a total of 537,000 square feet of affordable housing. The proposal will create 700 affordable apartments covering a range of incomes, including a significant number of units sized for families. Affordable apartments will be integrated throughout the complex, ensuring a dynamic mixed-income community. Unlike prior proposals, all of those units will be permanently affordable. Work on the first building will begin in December 2014.
This is, of course, great news. Especially since The Times and the Daily News have shaped the debate in a way that frames de Blasio’s actions as grandstanding or too aggressive. The latter said de Blasio would likely “doom” the Domino project with his “hellbent” scheme to boost affordable housing.
Before the agreement was reached, the Times‘ — who clearly think de Blasio is an ineffective pinko commie — declared “Plan to Redevelop Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn Hits Snag: De Blasio” and stated that the mayor wanted “even more space for affordable housing” and that “the developer, Jed Walentas [had] won over virtually all of the neighborhood groups and elected officials.” (Emphasis added.)
With the New York Planning Commission set to vote on the project on Wednesday, Domino Sugar has become a test of the mayor’s resolve to “reset” the city’s relationship with developers and extract more concessions from them, with a goal of building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing.
In reality, the mayor’s office was standing up to Walentas and Two Trees who, according to policy analyst Brian Paul who worked on the film The Domino Effect, predictably wanted to weaken the affordable housing program:
Regardless, all of the recent coverage on this is missing the point that the core problem here is the need for BINDING and more COMPREHENSIVE agreements for affordable housing and community benefits. The 2010 project was entirely predicated on a promise of 660 units of affordable housing affordable to a spectrum of incomes including very low 30% AMI, and lots of two and three bedroom units. Sadly that promise was not BINDING and was instead memorialized as a memo of understanding. But the public and the City government clearly thought that’s what was achieved in exchange for the zoning change. Now Mr. Walentas wants to weaken the affordable housing program in comparison to the 2010 plan and uses the fact that that plan was not BINDING as blackmail to win permission for his taller towers and extra density. The community groups that pushed for the 2010 plan because of its affordable housing are all demanding that Two Trees improve its affordable housing proposals and also contribute to alleviating the impact that the development will have on the community by contributing to anti-displacement organizing work and an open space fund among other community benefits. But Two Trees’ PR has skillfully framed what’s happening now as “De Blasio” injecting himself into the debate, when really what is happening is the City Planning Commission is seeking to serve the community’s wishes and win a better plan for the public.