The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

New 161st Street Development Seeking Tax Break to Add Affordable Units

 Sutton Management applied for 421a, a tax exemption for buildings with 20 percent affordable units.
607 W. 161st St.
View Full Caption

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A new 62-unit residential building slated for construction on West 161st Street is seeking a tax break to add 13 units of affordable housing, the developer said.

A representative for Sutton Management, which is developing the lot at 607 W. 161st St., appeared before Community Board 12’s Housing Committee to discuss its application for the 421a program, a partial tax exemption for new buildings that contain at least 20 percent affordable units.

The building, designed by Jeffrey Cole Architects, plans to offer 13 affordable apartments including studios, one- and two-bedrooms, application materials showed. The affordable units will rent for between $838 and $1,085 per month, while the market-rate units will rent for between $3,000 and $5,000 per month.

The affordable units, which are contingent on the 421a designation, would be rented to those with incomes that are 60 percent or less than the city's median income. For a family of four, that amounts to $50,340, while an individual would need to make $35,280 or less, according to the city’s Housing Development Corporation.

The building will include ground-floor duplex apartments with private yards and three units with private terraces or balconies, according to floor plans presented to the board. There will also be communal outdoor space, a gym and a bike storage room.

David Cohen, Sutton’s representative at the meeting, noted there wouldn’t be any income restrictions for use of the communal amenities in the building, a practice that some mixed-income buildings have instituted.

Construction has already begun at the site, where a church was demolished earlier this year.

If Sutton’s application is approved, the affordable units will be assigned through a housing lottery run by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Cohen said. 

"That will all be driven by HPD, and whoever they select, they select," he said.

The 421a program was implemented to spur the development of affordable housing and was expanded in 2006 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The current version of the program is set to expire in June, and some housing advocates are calling to put a permanent end to it. They claim the program benefits wealthy developers while having little actual impact on the city's affordable housing stock.

Richard Lewis, chairman of CB12's housing committee, asked about the possibility of increasing the number of affordable units at the building, but Cohen said 20 percent was the highest the developer was able to go.

“The building is not viable otherwise,” he said.