While city and federal authorities claim they are proceeding by the book with a controversial private mixed-used project that seeks both air rights and property from a public housing development on the Fort Greene/Downtown Brooklyn border, local elected officials remain skeptical that these authorities are acting above board.
As first reported in KCP two days ago, a legal notice was published over the weekend in the daily print newspaper, AMNewYork, announcing that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) intends to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to facilitate the transfer of about 91,093-sq-feet of air rights and 6,000-square-feet of property from NYCHA’s 21-building Ingersoll Houses to the private developer, YYY Brooklyn NY, LLC.
The legal notice goes on to say the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has determined that no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed for the planned project at 202-208 Tillary Street which includes a 40-story tower and a 31-story tower, as well as a 95-space car garage and a nearly 40,000-sq-foot commercial space, because it will not have an adverse environmental impact on the sited area.
The notice in a Manhattan-based paper drew the ire of Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights) who attended an even less publicized town hall meeting on the project on May 24, which included NYCHA Representatives, Ingersoll Tenant Association President Darold Burgess and the developers.
“I was very frustrated and upset about the meeting. I am very concerned that the city was not in touch with the local officials in the area. When I got there, I was the only elected official in the room. So it’s not surprising that they are trying to skirt the EIS process, as they didn’t reach out to me for this meeting, they are obligated to answer the concerns of the local community as related to the project,” said Mosley.
Multiple calls and emails from KCP to Burgess and property developers went unreturned.
NYCHA Spokesperson Michael Giardina said the agency performed an exhaustive review of City, State and Federal environmental regulations for the site and the agency’s environmental assessment concluded that the proposed project would not have significant adverse environmental impacts and no additional detailed analysis in the form of an EIS was warranted.
According to Giardina, the ad was the public notice of a 15-day review process that once completed will be sent over to HUD for approval, the new oversight agency at the embattled city housing authority.
“The sale of air rights is one tool in the NYCHA 2.0 toolbox that will help provide critical funding to preserve public housing. While the project is currently under public review, NYCHA previously performed a NEPA Environmental Assessment for 202-208 Tillary Street and DCP performed a CEQR environmental review. The project did go through ULURP and an environmental review was also performed as required,” said Giardina.
Both NYCHA and HPD failed to provide to KCP any executive summary, copies or documentation of the said review and assessment. The project site sits close to both a woman’s homeless shelter, a local firehouse and a police precinct.
The proposed development would provide a total of 400 rental units, with about 100 affordable housing units for individuals with incomes at an average of 60% Area Median Income (AMI), which starts at $44,820 for a household of one, and $51,240 for a household of two, according to the legal notice.
City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights) also expressed skepticism on the seemingly lack of transparency in regard to the project, and called for a full review of the community and residential impact on the planned development.
“When any type of development is considered the foremost concern must be that of local residents and how they will be affected. The city must adhere to proper processes and recognize that the health and well-being of city residents is a top priority,” said Cumbo.