Boerum Hill

NYC wants Wyckoff Gardens residents to offer advice on upcoming NYCHA development

April 6, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Wyckoff Gardens housing development in Boerum Hill, shown above, is the first NextGen Neighborhood site in Brooklyn. The city is looking for residents who will represent their neighbors and work with developers who are building on unused property at the complex. Image data © Google Maps

Not all tenants on board with Brooklyn’s first ‘NextGen Neighborhood’

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on Wednesday said it is seeking residents to join advisory committees at Wyckoff Gardens in Boerum Hill and Holmes Towers in Manhattan, the first two sites to be tapped for Mayor de Blasio’s NextGen Neighborhoods initiative.

Stakeholder Committee members will represent their neighbors and work with developers who will be building on unused property at the housing complexes.

NextGen Neighborhoods is the city’s 10-year plan to get NYCHA’s financial house in order. Over the years, NYCHA has accumulated $17 billion in unmet capital needs and the agency operates in chronic debt, according to the city.

The program enables the agency to generate revenue by leasing underutilized NYCHA property, such as parking lots or lawns, to developers, who will create 50 percent affordable and 50 percent market-rate units.

At Wyckoff, NYCHA hopes to replace two parking lots (or a parking lot and open space) with mixed-income housing buildings consisting of about 550-650 units.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told dubious residents at Wyckoff in January that the program was the only way to get money to make repairs at their project.

“The only way to get the amount of money you deserve is through this development. I don’t think there’s another alternative out there,” he said, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

Charlene Nimmons, a past president of the Wyckoff Gardens tenants association, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday that “a small population” of residents have attended several NYCHA organized meetings to discuss the NextGen plans for Wyckoff.

“I have made it clear I was engaging under protest. I believe doubling the units and population on our small parcel of space will be too congested,” Nimmons said.

She added, “The purpose of participation was to ensure our voices are heard if the project gets approval.”

The idea of Stakeholders Committees is to ensure that residents have an active voice in the process, NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said in a release.

The city says their input will “inform the character of the residential/commercial mix at sites, the pros and cons of building locations, and the look and feel … of the new construction.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams endorsed the committees. “The future of NYCHA depends on listening to the families who are actually living there and [who] understand the current situation best,” he said.

NYCHA says it has held dozens of meetings with residents. Input from these meetings helped to inform the Request for Proposals (RFP) for developers, which NYCHA expects to issue this spring, the city said.

The city says a “significant portion” of generated revenue will be reinvested for major repair and improvement projects at Wyckoff and Holmes, while the remainder is funneled back to NYCHA for operations. The exact proportion has yet to be determined.

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.

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Updated April 6 at 7:30 p.m. with a quote from Charlene Nimmons, a past president of the Wyckoff Gardens tenants association.