Bushwick Rallies Against the Lack of Affordable Housing Units at a Donut-Shaped Luxury Apartment

by Corinna Kirsch on July 28, 2015 Newswire

Proposed exterior for 10 Monteith. Rendering by ODA Architecture.

Proposed exterior for 10 Montieth Street. Rendering by ODA Architecture.

Bushwick residents are none too happy with 10 Montieth Street, a luxury apartment complex coming to the corners of Bushwick and Flushing. On Thursday night, a community group named the Rheingold Construction Committee will host a town hall-style meeting at the Cathedral of Joy, located just blocks away from the complex. The topic at hand will be the building’s developer, the Rabsky Group, and, in particular, their silence on affordable housing.

As of 2013, 30 percent of the rental units at 10 Montieth Street were slated to become affordable housing. In that year, the site’s former developer, Read Property Group and Bushwick residents and city officials, came to an agreement ensuring that 30 percent of the housing units would be deemed affordable.

The Rabsky Group took over the development in 2014, and since then, there’s been a lot of changes. “This agreement is not being held up by a new part owner of the site,” says Brigette Blood, an organizer in the Rheingold Construction Committee. The written agreement, addressed to former council member Diana Reyna, one of the most active proponents of the original push for original housing, pledges that they will ensure 30 percent of the units will be deemed affordable housing. Not only that, Read Property Group agreed to donate over $600,000 to local non-profits, schools, and job-training programs. [You can read the letter in full here.]

The view from above, giving the site a donut-shaped appearance. (P.S. the donut reference was coined, to the best of our knowledge, by Curbed NY.)

The view from above, giving the site a donut-shaped appearance. (P.S. the donut reference was coined, to the best of our knowledge, by Curbed NY.)

Crain’s New York reported that a large part of the reason why the city allowed for the initial construction by the Read Property Group was the written agreement, meant to mitigate community concerns about the luxury condominium: “In exchange for that zoning change from the city, Read Property Group pledged that 30% of the project’s housing will be reserved for affordable units.”

The Rabsky Group has remained quiet about initiating any of the original pledges. The architectural firm ODA, hired to design 10 Montieth Street, has written that the site will follow the city’s 80/20 Housing Program rules, with 20 percent of the units going towards affordable housing.

Looking further into ODA’s plans, it’s easy to see that 10 Montieth Street won’t be just any old place to rent a room. The seven-story mixed-use building will be home to 392 residential units (the site’s previous developer had been given the go-ahead to build 977 units). As it stands now, the apartments will have a rooftop courtyard with a running and hiking course, urban farming areas, outdoor cross-training facility, and yoga and meditation areas; an interior courtyard with a dog run, amphitheater, and a fire pit; an indoor gym and climbing wall; and space for retail stores. The list of bourgeois hipster amenities goes on.

Really, 10 Montieth Street raises the bar for development. It’s more than an apartment complex; it’s a mall for wealthy hipsters. Maybe it would be nice to include more affordable housing units in there, too?

Even if the Rabsky Group decides to publicly address the issue of the 30-percent affordable-housing pledge, some critics remain wary of any truly positive results. “[A]pparently 26 of the apartments will be in the building’s cellar,” says Jeremiah Budin, writing for Curbed NY. “Hopefully, that’s not where they’re sticking the affordable units.”


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