Renderings revealed for controversial mixed-income tower on top of UES playground

Posted On Fri, May 19, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, May 19, 2017 By In affordable housing, New Developments, Policy, Upper East Side

After over a year-long debate, the city has finally unveiled renderings of a mixed-income tower set to rise on an existing playground at the Holmes Towers public housing complex in Yorkville. The New York City Housing Authority’s plan, which falls under the city’s NextGen program, will construct a 47-story building among the complex on East 93rd Street, as well as a new 18,000-square-foot recreation and community center run by Asphalt Green (h/t DNA Info). The new building will feature 300 total units, with half of them at market-rate prices and half of them affordable. However, an alleged plan to separate the floors by income level, as well as the fact that high-end housing is coming to a low-income site where the community wasn’t consulted, has sparked a good deal of controversy.

Holmes Towers, NYCHA, Fetner Properties

The affordable units will be set aside for residents earning less than $41,000 for an individual and $52,000 for a family of three. In addition, 25 percent will be designated for NYCHA residents. Fetner Properties, hired by NYCHA to develop the complex, and Asphalt Green have promised to provide at least 50 percent of all permanent jobs at the new recreation center to NYCHA residents. However, according to Council Member Benjamin Kallos, NYCHA’s plan allocates the building’s floors by income levels. “All the low-income people will be stuck in the shadows with the high-income people living above them,” Kallos said. “The majority of the low-income units will be in the bottom 20 stories and they will have windows facing other NYCHA tenants. We will have effectively walled in the low-income tenants.”

A spokesperson for Fetner Properties denied these allegations, and said the affordable and market-rate units will be “evenly distributed throughout all floors of the building.” While NYCHA also said units must be evenly distributed, this is only the case for 65 percent of the building’s floors, meaning 17 floors do not have to meet this requirement.

Google Street View of the Holmes Towers with the playground in question in the foreground

Holmes resident and a member of Community Voices Heard, a group opposed to the project, Lakesha Taylor told DNAInfo that residents didn’t have enough of a say about the new housing development. “I was adamant that my choice is ‘no,’ but a lot of people felt it wasn’t a choice,” she said. “I think this process was pretty much a sham. We were basically told we didn’t have a choice and this was what was going to happen regardless. People said they chose [to support the plans] because it was the lesser of two evils.”

To ease tenant concerns, NYCHA said they plan on replacing the demolished playground with a newer, bigger one elsewhere. They also said some funds gained from the new development will be allocated for repairs at the existing Holmes Towers. Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer released a statement commending the project.

“This energy-efficient project will provide much-needed affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, a dynamic new community facility, job opportunities for NYCHA residents, and a much-needed infusion of revenue to address the capital needs of existing NYCHA buildings,” Torres-Springer said.

[Via DNA Info]

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Neighborhoods : Upper East Side

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