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Tenants Wary of Plan To Build More Than 500 Units At Wyckoff Gardens

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 16, 2015 3:50pm
 Wyckoff Gardens is a NYCHA housing development that's bound by Third Avenue, Baltic, Wyckoff and Nevins streets.
Wyckoff Gardens is a NYCHA housing development that's bound by Third Avenue, Baltic, Wyckoff and Nevins streets.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

BOERUM HILL — A plan to develop two mixed-income residential buildings on NYCHA property within a Wyckoff Gardens has some residents fearing they will be pushed out and priced out of the Boerum Hill public housing complex. 

The New York City Housing Authority is proposing to replace two underutilized parking lots with buildings that would hold 550 to 650 units, the city agency announced to locals and media outlets last week. 

Under the NextGen Neighborhoods program, a 10-year strategic plan to bolster New York City Housing Authority's "chronic operating deficit and $17 billion in unmet capital needs," the new units would be 50 percent affordable and 50 percent market-rate, the agency said. 

"Is it affordable to the now-residents?" asked Marie Mack, who has lived in Wyckoff Gardens for more than three decades. 

Wyckoff residents fear that the new developments are a step toward a loss of affordability and low-income public housing, said Charlene Nimmons, president of the tenants association. 

The buildings would also bring thousands of new residents to Wyckoff Gardens, which currently consists of three buildings with almost 530 units bound by Third Avenue, Wyckoff, Nevins and Baltic streets.

That would "make it like ants and sardines," said Yvonne Barrow, who grew up in the housing complex and now lives nearby in the neighborhood.

On a recent Tuesday evening, almost a dozen locals said pushed back against the proposed buildings in Wyckoff Gardens after first learning about the plan last week. 

"It's not for us," said resident Marilyn Carter, of the new buildings. 

"Their kids are going to be able to play in the parks," she said, referring to the would-be new tenants. "What about our kids?" 

In a letter dated Sept. 10 posted in a Third Avenue building's hallway, NYCHA urged residents to attend scheduled informational sessions, such as 30-minute "lobby meetings" on Sept. 21 and a larger public session on Oct. 5. (Dates and times of upcoming meeting can be found below).

"[W]e will be on hand to explain how a significant portion of the revenue generated by this new program can be reinvested in Wyckoff. Residents will be key in deciding how monies are spent for major capital improvement and repairs," the notice said.   

Along with Wyckoff Gardens, NYCHA is proposing a similar plan for Holmes Towers in the Upper East Side with a plan to replace a playground with a new high-rise building.

Still, the proposal is still in its early stages. While NYCHA has said the new affordable units would be capped at 60 percent of the area median income, a spokeswoman told DNAinfo there may be scope for deeper affordability.

While residents wait for further information on the proposal, Nimmons, the tenant association president, is focusing on its impacts on current tenants and encouraging others to learn more about the plan. 

"We can't make decisions based on rumors and fears," she said.

On Sept. 21, NYCHA will be hosting 30-minute meetings in the following buildings:

2 to 2:30 p.m - 130, 132 and 136 Third Aves.

2:45 to 3:15 p.m. - 185, 187 and 191 Nevins Sts.

3:30 to 4 p.m. - 272, 274 and 280 Wyckoff Sts. 

6 to 6:30 p.m. - 130, 132 and 136 Third Aves.

6:45 to 7:15 p.m. - 185, 187 and 191 Nevins Sts.

7:30 to 8 p.m. - 272, 274 and 280 Wyckoff Sts.