Coney Island insists on more affordable housing

The Brooklyn Paper
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Residents in Coney Island are once again speaking out about the proposed plan to redevelop their community.

One community activist, Ronald Stewart, delivered this message to neighbors at the United Community Church on Mermaid Avenue last week: “We don’t want to be priced out by development.”

While the city is pushing hard for new rezoning it hopes will revamp the amusement district and bring 4,500 new units of housing to Coney Island, critics say that the 900 units of promised affordable housing are simply not enough to meet the neighborhood’s needs.

Referring to a development survey conducted by the Coney Island Homeowners and Residents Association, Stewart said that important infrastructure problems on the western end of Coney Island must be addressed in addition to chronic parking shortages, traffic jams and the need for job training.

“Certain demands must be met before we agree to this development,” Stewart said.

Community Board 13 has already endorsed the redevelopment plan. Borough President Marty Markowitz’s recommendation is imminent. The city hopes to wrap up the required Uniform Land Use Review Procedure by summer’s end.

A key issue emerging out of the process, however, is the formula the city will ultimately use to determine affordability.

Critics of the city’s proposal want the Average Median Income, or AMI, of Coney Island to be used in determining affordability instead of the citywide AMI city officials have indicated.

Stewart put Coney Island’s AMI at $29,278 and the citywide AMI at $64,217 −− a marked difference.

City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, however, says that not enough is being done to help city workers and other members of Coney Island’s “middle−c­lass” achieve the dream of home ownership.

“Workforce housing is in great demand in our community,” Recchia told this newspaper. “There’s nothing out there for the middle class.”

Instead of being priced out, Recchia says that teachers and single heads of households currently living in Coney Island could benefit from the new kind of housing stock being proposed.

“People in NYCHA [NYC Housing Authority] housing that pay a surcharge because they make too much money, I would like to get those people into home ownership,” he said.

Taconic Investment Partners, the development group hoping to build many of the new housing unit on the western end of Coney Island, has already indicated that any skewing of the current 80−20 model of market−rate and affordable housing could endanger the economic feasibility of any new housing project.

“We’re looking at all numbers and hearing from different people, but we also want to get the project,” Recchia said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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