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Front Page August 21, 2014  RSS feed

BUILDING A RENT DEAL

R’wood Rezone Includes Affordable Apts.
by Robert Pozarycki


A rendering of the four-story, mixed-use building to be constructed at 176 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood. A rendering of the four-story, mixed-use building to be constructed at 176 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood. Half of the units at an apartment house proposed for an industrially-zoned Ridgewood lot will be made affordable for most residents through a deal struck between developers and a local lawmaker, it was announced Tuesday, Aug. 19.

The City Council’s Land Use Committee approved on Tuesday the rezoning of an area generally bounded by Flushing Avenue, Starr Street andWoodward and Onderdonk avenues from manufacturing to residential classification. The change paves the way for the owners of 176 Woodward Ave.—presently a vacant lot—to build a four-story structure with 88 apartments, ground-floor commercial space and a 3,000 sq. ft. community facility.

Prior to the vote, City Council MemberAntonio Reynoso stated, the developers—Slate Property Group— agreed to reserve 45 units as affordable housing available to individuals and families with incomes up to 125 percent of Ridgewood’s area median income (AMI). Rents for these units would be below standard market value for similar apartments in the community.

The agreement was hammered out between Slate Property Group, Reynoso and the City Council Land Use Committee staff.

“This project was certified with a narrow scope, making it difficult to be creative in our efforts to maximize the benefits and resources available to our communities,” Reynoso said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “There is a mandate set forth by the 34th District to build affordable housing. Any project that runs through a ULURP (uniform land use review) process will need to meet demands of real affordability, and I’m pleased we were able to achieve that here.”

To accomplish this plan, Reynoso explained, Slate Property Group will file a follow-up application to expand the structure’s density. It would also seek inclusionary zoning to make 20 percent of the apartments permanently affordable.

Earlier this year, developers pitched the rezoning proposal and accompanying construction plan for 176 Woodward Ave. to Community Board 5 and its Land Use Committee. At meetings held in the spring, many expressed concerns that the apartments would be unaffordable for most local residents in one of the most popular real estate markets in the city.

Rachel Namuche of the Ridgewood Tenants Union, an organization formed this year among those concerned about rent spikes, told the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday she was pleased with the arrangement.

“It’s a better agreement than what was originally proposed,” she said. “Thankfully, [Reynoso] really fought hard for affordability.”

Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano also welcomed the news, stating the affordable rents would be a great opportunity for working class residents to stay in Ridgewood.

“For a lot of people, rent is very high in New York City,” he told this paper. “It could be a godsend for those people who get that opportunity and would otherwise have a hard time affording market rent.”

According to Reynoso, Ridgewood’s AMI is currently $51,000 for a household of 2.9 people. The 88 apartments proposed for 176 Woodward Ave. will be an unspecified mix of studio, onebedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

The affordable housing breakdown is as follows:

• six units will be reserved for those making up to 40 percent of the area AMI (between $23,000 and $33,000);

• six units will go to individuals and families making up to 50 percent of the area AMI (between $29,000 and $42,000);

• ten units will be provided to those making up to 60 percent AMI (between $35,000 and $50,000);

• six units will go to households making up to 100 percent of the AMI (up to $83,000); and

• seventeen units will be reserved for those making up to 125 percent of AMI (between $72,000 and $105,000).

It was not disclosed as to how many of each type of apartment would be designated as affordable housing.

The remaining 43 apartments will be made available at market rate.

Before ultimately approving the rezoning proposal and development, Board 5 members also expressed concerns over the loss of manufacturing space in the community. As part of the agreement, Reynoso and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz also worked to reclassify the building’s commercial space under C2-3 zoning, opening the door for light industries such as 3-D printing, plumbing or electrical contractors and raw material suppliers for metal workers or artists.

“This type of commercial use will not disrupt the character of the surrounding industrial zone,” Reynoso added.

Finally, the development includes 3,000 sq. ft. of community space that will be made available to local artists and community groups for just $10 per year. Reportedly, the developer— in consultation with Reynoso—will select those who will use the space.

The rezoning will take effect if and when the full City Council passes it.