8-Story Affordable Housing Building Planned for Grand Street

By Serena Dai on August 5, 2014 1:29pm 

EAST WILLIAMSBURG — A new eight-story elevator building looking to go up on Grand Street won't be like most new developments in the neighborhood — most of the 51 units will be affordable.

The property at 695 Grand St. is currently a city-owned one-story commercial building. Nonprofit St. Nicks Alliance offered to develop the land into a mixed-use, mixed-income residential building in 2012, and now the project is moving forward.

Next Tuesday, St. Nicks and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development will present the plan to Community Board 1, which acts as an advisory capacity to the City Planning Commission and City Council, for a vote.

The board already submitted a letter in 2012 endorsing an affordable building at the address, according to a document and Frank Lang, director of housing at St. Nicks.

"The only new construction that's going up are very expensive rentals or condominiums," Lang said. "Every affordable housing project that gets developed in North Brooklyn has thousands of applicants. Every additional unit that we can produce really makes a big difference."

The ground floor will have more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space, though a tenant has not yet been chosen.

The 51 units include eight three-bedrooms, 19 two-bedrooms, 15 one-bedrooms and nine studios. Most of them will be for moderate-income to low-income renters, according to HPD.

Eight of the units will be designated as Section 8 housing for very low-income tenants, with rent not exceeding more than 40 percent of the household's income.

"That makes it particularly affordable for residents," Lang said, calling it a "pretty unusual situation" to have so many new units be designated Section 8.

The $20 million project will also feature a laundry room, community rooms, bike storage, and a garden in the rear with patio seating and play equipment, HPD and Lang said.

It's largely being financed by state and low-income housing tax credits. HPD expects financing to close at the end of the year and hopes that the project will be finished by the end of 2016.

The city has owned the property since 1979, according to Department of Finance records.

St. Nicks developed the one-story commercial building with discount stores like Rainbow and Gem "to stabilize the Grand Street commercial corridor," which then had vacant storefronts and boarded-up buildings, Lang said.

Now, it's housing that's needed in the area, Lang explained.

"We're just hoping when it gets done," he said, "the property will be further constructive to Grand Street and the residential part of the community."

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