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City Approved Oversized Developments in Affordable Housing Zones: Report

By Jason Bisnoff | February 8, 2016 3:11pm | Updated on February 8, 2016 5:31pm
 The Nathaniel, a recently built 85-unit luxury building on the corner of East 12th Street and Third Avenue is among the buildings implicated in a report by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
The Nathaniel, a recently built 85-unit luxury building on the corner of East 12th Street and Third Avenue is among the buildings implicated in a report by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

EAST VILLAGE — An investigation by a local historic preservation group has found that a number of "oversized new developments" in the neighborhood's affordable housing zones were approved by the city without requiring affordable housing, according to a report.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation said in a statement Monday that its investigation of Department of Building records found at least five cases in recent years where the city approved new developments "with greater square footage than allowed for market-rate developments, without requiring any affordable housing either on-site or off, as mandated by law."

The developments identified by the GVSHP were: 84 Third Ave./138 E. 12th St. (“The Nathaniel”); 152-154 Second Ave.; 118 E. First St.; 438 E. 12th St.; and 67 Ave. C.

Much of the East Village, including the avenues and Houston Street, consists of  "inclusionary housing" districts. Inclusionary housing limits how many square feet a new development can be without affordable housing included. 

The current legislation allows for an increase in square footage by 33 percent under the provision that the developer allot 20 percent of the total square footage to affordable housing.

"The Department will review each of the projects listed to ensure compliance with inclusionary housing requirements," a DOB spokesperson told DNAinfo New York.

“At least two of the buildings mentioned as getting additional floor area provided documentation to the Department to show they satisfied their obligation to provide affordable housing, and another building is too early in the development process to be cited as non-compliant,” the spokesperson said, adding that temporary or final Certificates of Occupancy would not be issued until a developer provided necessary documents that showed inclusionary housing obligations were met.

Sources also told DNAinfo that two of the buildings — "The Nathaniel" and the one at 438 East 12th St. — had received bonus square footage in exchange for affordable housing constructed nearby.

"The former through affordable housing at 9, 11-17 Second Avenue (13 units) and the latter at 544 East 13th Street (14 units)," a source said.

The GVSHP's report was released as the mayor's rezoning plan, which includes lifting height limits, is set to go before the City Council on Wednesday.

"We found these five examples looking in just one neighborhood... just in the last two years," Andrew Berman, executive director of the GVSHP, told DNAinfo New York. "We are losing out on the affordable housing we should be getting. In return are buildings that are larger than they are supposed to be."

"The results of GVSHP's thorough investigation into the City's zoning violations are deeply disconcerting, not only because they have occurred unchecked over several years, but also repeatedly targeted the Lower East Side, and worked in favor of market-rate development at the expense of much needed affordable housing," said James Rodriguez of Good Ole Lower East Side in a statement. 

"We call on the City to immediately cease and investigate this practice, and take measures to ensure our neighborhood receives the affordable housing it needs and was guaranteed."

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the mayor's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.