affordable housing

Staten Island Revamp Advances Without $3,000 ‘Affordable’ Rents

A City Council subcommittee voted on June 6 to approve a rezoning plan for a stretch of Staten Island's Bay Street.
A City Council subcommittee voted on June 6 to approve a rezoning plan for a stretch of Staten Island’s Bay Street. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

A key City Council subcommittee approved new zoning rules for Staten Island’s Bay Street area Thursday — making progress toward the mayor’s affordable housing goals while nixing the borough president’s proposal to let high-rent apartments count.

In the bargain, Councilmember Debi Rose brokered a City Hall pledge to reconstruct a demolished community center and build a new school.

“The road was long, but with guidance and input from my constituents and many stakeholders, I have secured the necessary funding and commitments for the next chapter of the story,” Rose (D-S.I.) said in a hearing room before the unanimous vote.

“For too long, planning on Staten Island has been haphazard or nonexistent. Today, we have before us a blueprint for a well-planned future.”

Once the plan passes the full City Council and receives Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval as expected, developers will have a choice of two formulas for setting aside some apartments for lower-income tenants: They can either allot 25% of their square footage at rents averaging about $1,441 a month for a family of three earning an average of $57,660 or less, or set aside 20% of their space at an average rent of $961 a month for households earning $38,440 or less.

That’s a far cry from the $3,000 “affordable” flats proposed as an option by Borough President Jimmy Oddo, who declared he was “bitterly disappointed” by the outcome.

City planners project the rezoning of the mostly low-rise commercial corridor will bring 1,800 apartments and some 6,500 new residents to a 14-block stretch of Bay Street in Tompkinsville and Stapleton.

The city will also give up a nearby sanitation garage and issue a request for proposals to build a 100% affordable housing complex with 223 units.

Overall, there will be a projected total of 583 to 673 affordable apartments, which would count toward de Blasio’s citywide goal of building or preserving 300,000 affordable units.

“I wanted to make sure we could accommodate as many (affordable apartments) as we could,” Rose

A Rec Center Reincarnated

Rose also secured a prize she’d long sought: a mayoral commitment to rebuild the Cromwell Recreation Center, a Depression-era facility located on a pier until its collapse nearly a decade ago.

A side agreement commits $92 million to fund a new center at the Lyons Pool complex in Tompkinsville, among other “strategic investments to complement development,” wrote Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. These also include two new public schools, streetscaping improvements and sewer upgrades.

A rendering of how Staten Island's Bay Street could look under a rezoning plan.
A rendering of how Staten Island’s Bay Street could look under a rezoning plan. Photo: NYC City Planning Commission

Previously, Rose secured a pledge for $31 million for public space enhancements at the Tompkinsville train station.

In a statement, Oddo contended the promised investments would be no match for the impact of thousands of new apartments.

“What you won’t see in this rezoning announcement is as critically important as what you do see,” Oddo said in a statement. “You won’t see any genuine effort to stop the already awful traffic and transit reality from getting exponentially worse, let alone being mitigated to some degree.”

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