BY: REBECCA BAIRD-REMBA 7:30 AM ON JANUARY 19, 2017
A long-vacant lot at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Pacific Streets in Crown Heights is set to become a nine-story affordable rental building.
The developer filed plans with the city for a rezoning that would pave the way for a 94-unit development at 1350 Bedford Avenue. The project would rise next to a century-old, six-story apartment building where all 78 units are affordable, thanks to Section 8 subsidies. Across the street is the massive Bedford Atlantic Armory, a 19th century Renaissance Revival structure that began life as a National Guard training ground and is now used as a men’s homeless shelter.
If the rezoning goes forward, the new building will offer 48 units for households earning 80 percent of the Area Median Income or less, or $78,336 for a family of three. The other 46 units would go to families earning 130 percent AMI or less, which works out to $106,080 for a three-person household. In other words, it would be subject to Option 2 of the year-old Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which requires builders to set aside rent at least a quarter of their units at below-market rates. The developer also opted for the “deep affordability” set-aside, which means that 10 percent of the units will go to households making 40 percent AMI, or $31,080 for a household of three.
In exchange for including affordable housing, the builder hopes the city will upzone the development site from R6A to R7D. The building could get an extra floor area boost if the city agrees to the maximum density allowed under the inclusionary housing program, which is a floor area ratio (FAR) of 5.6. If the City Planning Commission and City Council greenlight the extra density, the project could reach up to 11 stories and hold 136 affordable units. In that case, all of the apartments would rent to families making less than 80 percent AMI.
Regardless of which project gets built, there will be a 23-car parking lot. The owner also hopes to snag a variance, which would cut down the city’s onerous parking requirements for market-rate units.
The developer is Essex Plaza Management Associates, which has owned this property since 1978. It also operates Essex Plaza, a large affordable housing complex in Newark.
The site’s current occupant was originally constructed in 1915 and designed by well-known Brooklyn architect Montrose Morris. The building started out as the Hotel Chatelaine, which is still emblazoned on the wall facing Pacific Street, and was sold to the Swedish Hospital in 1930. The hospital held onto the building until selling it to Essex Plaza in 1978, and at that point, the property entered the Section 8 program.