Boerum Hill

NYCHA moves to lease land at Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Brooklyn to a developer

Part of mayor’s NextGen Neighborhoods plan

September 11, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYCHA hopes to lease land in parking lots at Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Boerum Hill to a developer. Photo data copyright Google Maps
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As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NextGen Neighborhoods plan to dig the city’s public housing projects out of a $2.5 billion hole, NYCHA (NYC Housing Authority) Chair Shola Olatoye said on Thursday that the city hopes to lease what it calls underutilized land at the Wyckoff Gardens housing development in Boerum Hill to a developer.

With NYCHA in its worst financial position in more than 80 years, NextGen Neighborhoods intends to create a revenue stream that would benefit individual projects. Developers would create 50 percent affordable and 50 percent market-rate units, with the revenue going to NYCHA.

“As we start this comprehensive, inclusive process and engagement moves forward, we cannot forget our purpose and why we are doing this—we must save NYCHA today and for tomorrow; we can no longer kick the can further down the road to address our finances, resident concerns and pressing infrastructure needs,” Olatoye said in a statement.

Olatoye said that “engagement is central” to the program. “We are reaching out to residents to inform them about the program and benefits this week, will hold briefings and meeting starting next week and host a resident forum in the next few weeks,” she said.

Charlene Nimmons, President of Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association, said the association has not yet taken a position of support or opposition to the plan.

“We are in the process of gathering information and planning meetings to get a clear understanding on what this is all about,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle on Friday.

The city also plans to start the process at Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) expressed strong reservations about that proposal, which would reduce playground space at the project.

“I am deeply troubled that NYCHA is considering taking light, air and playground space from residents of Holmes Towers in order to balance its budget,” she said in a statement. “These are the same NYCHA housing residents who will be living with an influx of hundreds of garbage trucks a day when the city’s new garbage transfer station opens down the street from them.  It’s a real double whammy — First Holmes residents are being saddled with a giant garbage dump, and now the city wants to take away their open space.”

Before moving to build at Holmes, Maloney asked for a detailed financial accounting.

“I would like to know what NYCHA has done to address the lapses identified by the Comptroller’s office,” she said. “In a series of reports, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has documented revenue misspent or lost because of equipment purchased and not used, apartments left vacant because repairs were not made, apartments not filled quickly, Section 8 vouchers not used, and so on.”

The city says that unlike a previous plan introduced by the Bloomberg administration, NextGen Neighborhoods will ensure a direct benefit to residents at the site of new construction. NYCHA said it will be collecting feedback from residents, including on how to invest the income into their development’s existing buildings for major capital repairs, such as roofs, new kitchens or updated bathrooms.

The remainder of the revenue will be funneled back to NYCHA for operations and improvements at other developments.

Wyckoff Gardens includes three 21-story buildings on 5.81 acres of land. About 1,150 residents live in roughly 530 units in the three buildings, which covers about 12.3 percent of the NYCHA-owned land at the development. Completed in 1966, the development has nearly $45 million in capital repair needs in the next five years, according to NYCHA.

NYCHA hopes to replace two parking lots with mixed-income housing buildings consisting of about 550-650 units.

Half of the new housing units will be affordable, with income capped at a minimum of 60 percent of the AMI (equivalent to a family of three making of $46,600 a year as the minimum).

Holmes Towers includes two 25-story buildings on 2.81 acres of land on the Upper East Side. About 930 residents live in roughly 540 units in the two buildings.

NYCHA says it will also be creating a local hiring program to match residents with job and training opportunities associated with the new mix-income housing units.

Updates at 4:30 p.m. with a comment from the Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association.

Updates at 5:30 p.m. with a comment from Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

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