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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

38-46 West 33rd St, application to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, for an R-10 Plan for affordable housing, under the inclusionary housing program, benefitting from A421-A tax exemption

At the monthly meeting of Community Board Five on Thursday, May 14, 2015, the Board passed the following resolution with a vote of 38 in favor, 0 opposed, 1abstaining:

WHEREAS, The applicant (a developer known as The Torkian Group) proposes to build a 41-story building, that will include units of the affordable housing under the Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP) of HPD, benefiting from the 421-a tax exemption program; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five prefers when low-income units created through the IHP are mixed in a building with market-rate units, as is the case here, to further objectives of economic integration; and

WHEREAS, The proposed building is 20% larger than would otherwise be permitted and the applicant is additionally generating thousands of square feet of additional bonus through the off-site program to be used for other developments; and

WHEREAS, CB5 does not believe that the R10 Inclusionary Housing Program (1 square foot of affordable generating 3.5 square feet of floor area) in the R10 and R10 equivalent districts achieves sufficient public benefit for the bonus generated and believes that all R10 and R10 equivalent districts in Manhattan Community District 5 should become Inclusionary Housing Designated areas immediately so as to achieve a greater public benefit for added density (1 square foot of affordable generating 1.25 square feet of floor area); and

WHEREAS, The proposed building is additionally receiving a significant tax benefit through 421-a program under which they do not have to pay any property taxes on the improved value of property for 12 years followed by an 8-year partial exemption; and

WHEREAS, The proposed building will have 223 residential units total, of which 45 will be affordable for low-income households; and

WHEREAS, The rents for the 45 apartments in the inclusionary program will be set initially at 60% of Area Median Income (two-person household with income of $41,460) with a starting range of $867/month for studio apartments up to $1123/month for 2-bedroom apartments; and

WHEREAS, The rents on the 45 apartments in inclusionary program will increase to 80% of AMI (two-person household with income of $55,280) after 35 years (once the affordability period required under 421-a has concluded), providing the developer with a bump in income, and thereafter can only increase by the increment permissible under the rules for rent stabilization; and

WHEREAS, The inclusionary housing units are spread through two-thirds of the building; and

WHEREAS, The level of finishes in the low-income units will be comparable (though somewhat lower quality) than the market-rate units; and

WHEREAS, The amenities available for charge include a rooftop lounge, an outdoor terrace and a fitness center; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has suggested that the gym fee for residents of the market-rate apartments will be around $100/month, and

WHEREAS, Concerns were expressed that low-income tenants may be unable and unlikely to pay that high a fee and therefore would not be fully integrated residents in the publicly subsidized building; and  

WHEREAS, In response, the applicant has agreed to make a commitment in the regulatory agreement that the initial amenity rates for low-income households will be set at no more than an annual charge of $1,000 for an entire household or $750 for an individual OR at no more than 50% of the market rate charge--whichever is less; and

WHEREAS, The applicant will increase amenity rates each year no more than the maximum allowable percent increase set forth by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board; and

WHEREAS, Though CB5 believes these rates should be further lowered for any development receiving such generous public subsidy to guarantee that no residents are financially unable to be fully integrated residents of their building, the applicant has provided for a significantly discounted rate which should help ensure that this building is more integrated than it would be with an unaffordable amenity rate for low-income tenants; and therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the IHP application at 38-46 West 33 Street conditional upon the Inclusionary Housing Program Regulatory Agreement requiring the following:

Low-income tenants will have the opportunity, if they so wish, to pay one-twelfth of the annual amenity fee each month rather than as a lump sum payment.

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