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NYC's Hunt For Affordable Housing Isn't Just in NYC

For multifamily renters, the hunt for affordability may be entering a new frontier: the suburbs. That’s according to panelists who will speak at Bisnow’s 5th Annual Westchester & Fairfield State of the Market event next week.


You have to start somewhere, and Jonathan Rose Cos managing director Caroline Vary, one of our speakers, says downtown Stamford’s revitalization started when many didn’t even want to be in the area after dark.

She recalls refusing to go when her husband would suggest going out in the area on weekend nights about 10 years ago. The area was desolate at night.

Now she’s there all the time—and not just because she’s overseeing the residential component at Metro Green, which Jonathan Rose Cos is developing with Malkin Properties.

The residential/office/retail development near the Stamford Metro-North station will have 230 residential units—70% of them affordable—when its third and final phase delivers by the end of this year.

The affordable units are earmarked for folks making up to 25%, 50% or 60% of the area’s median income, which Caroline says is substantial, at around $130k a year.

When the first units at the development delivered in 2009, she tells us it was hard to move the 60% AMI units because they were priced pretty close to the market rate at that time, and living in downtown Stamford still wasn’t something many folks were itching to do.


Times have changed. Harbor Point COO Ted Ferrarone, who'll also speak, says apart from BLT’s Habor Point development, there’s enough demand that as many as 10 new multifamily projects have gone up in downtown Stamford in the past six or seven years.

The biggest of those is BLT’s Harbor Point. It has 2,300 residential units built so far, another 2,000 on the way and more than 2M SF of commercial space either built or in the pipeline.

As Caroline points out, no one really thought of Stamford as a waterfront community before the project came along, but it’s helping to draw people near the water to change that. 

A good chunk of the residential demand is coming from the city, with 25% to 30% of residents working in Manhattan, by Ted’s estimate.

Affordability is one factor driving them there, he says, with a typical one-bedroom unit renting for between $2,100 and $2,400 a month.

If that still sounds steep, consider that last month the average Manhattan one-bedroom went for $3,458, according to a report by Douglas Elliman.

Ted says the demographics at Harbor Point aren’t too different from what you see in the city: a lot of young professionals, young couples with small kids or no kids, and empty nesters. The idea that younger folks aren’t interested in suburbs and small cities isn’t supported by who’s renting at Harbor Point. Ted tells us 60% of residents are 34 or younger.


Over in Westchester, Megalith Capital recently closed on the land for its first development project outside of the five boroughs.

Megalith principal Phil Watkins says most of the approvals are in place and it’ll be a 71-unit rental project with a small retail component.

More projects like it are likely, since a rezoning passed in December paved the way for greater residential density over 274 acres near the city’s Metro-North station.

Phil says demand is there to fill the surge of new units coming to the small city, driven in part by the search for affordability.

While Megalith isn’t far enough along with the project to say what rents will be, Phil says the mid $30s to $40s/SF is the range to be found in New Rochelle, compared to the $60s and $70s in much of Brooklyn and even higher in Manhattan.

We’ll see you at our event at 1 Elmcroft Road in Stamford on May 5, starting bright and early at 8am. Sign up here