Adams Wants More Affordablity on Bushwick Project

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office last week approved a proposed project at 1601 DeKalb Avenue in Bushwick with the conditions that there was inclusion of more low- and very-low affordable housing, and the developer helps in retaining small businesses. 

These were some of Adams’ recommendations last week following a hearing on the project as part of the city’s zoning change review process known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure).

The plan that developer Camber Property Group brought before Adams was to develop two-nine story residential buildings on DeKalb Avenue bounded by Hart Street, and Irving and Wyckoff avenues with 122 units of housing, 31 of which is affordable, and room for 46 enclosed and unenclosed parking spaces.

The rub is that part of the property is currently zoned for manufacturing so the developer needs a zoning amendment for it to become residential. Additionally, the property would be within the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) which allows developers to build higher as long as it includes some permanent affordable housing.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

In Adams’ recommendations, he expressed concerns that the development will not provide enough affordable housing, and will push out local residents and businesses. As a result, the borough president recommended 20 percent of the developed residential floor space be affordable housing at an average rent of 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Adams also recommended that the City Council require the owner to commit to adding an additional 4,000 square feet of affordable housing at an average rent of 60 AMI, and seek city financing to make at least 40 percent of the residential floor area available to low and very low-income households.

Additionally, Adams recommended that the city council obtain written commitments from the owner to retain Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors, including those designated locally owned business enterprises and minority- and women-owned business enterprises. He also recommended that the developer create a space to accommodate a local boxing club that could be pushed out of the area if property values increase around the development.

In response to the proposal, Camber Property Group Principal Rick Gropper wrote to Kings County Politics through email, “We are encouraged by Borough President Adams’ thoughtful consideration of our project, which will bring much-needed affordable housing, local and MWBE hiring opportunities and good-paying union jobs to Bushwick.”

City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.

City Council Member Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, East New York), who has voiced his opposition to the development in recent weeks, said, “I haven’t had a chance to read the Borough President’s report in detail, but my position still stands that there is a lot of work the developers need to do to meet the needs of the community and I look forward to working with all partners involved to make sure 1601 DeKalb truly delivers for Bushwick.”

Council Member Espinal recently participated in a rally in Bushwick where he announced that he would not support Camber’s proposal as is. 

Gropper wrote to KCP through email, “We look forward to working closely and productively with Council Member Espinal and the community as the public review process moves forward.”

The project also received support from 32BJ SEIU, the largest property services workers union in the country.

“Bushwick needs quality jobs and more affordable housing.” said 32 BJ Secretary Treasurer Kyle Bragg. “This development will bring both and we fully support it. Thanks to the project, Brooklyn residents will have a chance to secure good building service jobs that offer a pathway to the middle class.”

The matter now goes before the city’s Planning Commission who can approve, modify or disapprove the developer’s application. It then goes before the city council for a final vote and then to the mayor’s office.

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