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Atlantic Avenue Developments Agree To More Affordability To Win Council Backing

Developers of two mixed-use projects in Brooklyn have been given the green light to move forward after a local city council member negotiated for more affordable housing units in her plans.

Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue, one of the borough's busiest strips.

The two buildings, at 870 Atlantic Ave. and 1034 Atlantic Ave., had been stalled as they awaited rezoning approval from New York City Council — until this month, when Council Member Crystal Hudson, who represents the 35th District in which she sits, gave her endorsement.

But there was a condition attached to Hudson's approval: Developers had to agree to increase the percentage of affordable units above the required minimum inclusionary zoning.

"In New York, the real estate industry has created a false choice for communities: allow developers to solve the housing and affordability crisis by operating undeterred or risk stifling development by ‘burdening’ developers with affordability quotas and community demands," Hudson's spokesperson, Alejandro Gonzalez, told Bisnow in an email. "The truth is, developers can stand to give more."

The planned projects, from developers EMP Capital and Y&T Development, will stand at 17 stories high and would contribute approximately 438 units to an area with a growing population and soaring demand for housing, The Real Deal previously reported.

One of Hudson’s first acts as a new council member in January was to publicly ask EMP and Y&T to withdraw their applications for the projects, or she would vote against them.

District 35 encompasses some of NYC’s fastest gentrifying neighborhoods — Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant — and Hudson said she was concerned that a rezoning for largely market-rate developments would exacerbate displacement of long-term residents. 

The decision left developers stuck. The projects had already been reviewed by the appropriate community board and the borough president. But because New York City Council members defer to local representatives on rezonings, the developers still needed Hudson’s sign-off.

EMP Capital principal Elie Pariente offered between 25% and 30% affordable units — the amount needed to comply with NYC’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law — at a March 8 hearing.

But this week, the developers agreed to increase the number of affordable units to 35%, for families making between 40% and 80% of the area median income, in addition to contributing $100K to anti-displacement efforts, The Real Deal reports.

Hudson's success in negotiating the increase in the number of affordable units for the Atlantic Avenue projects shows other council members what's possible, Gonzalez wrote. With Hudson’s approval, the rezoning has to clear the Land Use Committee, the City Council and be approved by Mayor Eric Adams.

Developers are hoping that the projects are approved quickly: If they fail to start construction before June 15, they won't be able to qualify for the expiring 421-a tax break.

Pariente told the City Planning Commission on March 8 that without a rezoning, he was unsure what to do with the 870 Atlantic Ave. property, which he has owned for approximately two years.

Pariente declined to comment to Bisnow until after the final vote on April 28. Attorney Richard Lobel, who represented both developers, did not respond to a request for comment.