Carroll Gardens Association, Developer Avery Hall Investments and City Council Member Brad Lander Announce Agreement To Permanently Preserve Affordable Housing and Protect Beloved Community Garden
Agreement called “a win-win” for Columbia Waterfront and Red Hook Communities
BROOKLYN, NY—July 21, 2016—The neighborhood preservation corporation Carroll Gardens Association, Brooklyn-focused real estate developer Avery Hall Investments and New York City Council Member Brad Lander today announced an agreement by which the sale of a long-time vacant lot will generate funding to permanently preserve existing affordable housing, explore the preservation and creation of new affordable housing in Brooklyn’s Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook neighborhoods, and protect a beloved local community garden.
The agreement was approved by the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Council. It allows the Carroll Gardens Association (CGA), a community-based affordable housing, economic development, and social services organization to sell a long-vacant 1,991-square foot lot at 163 Columbia Street, which CGA purchased from the City in 1991 and had been intended as open space. Avery Hall Investments (AHI) purchased the lot and will develop a four-unit market-rate residential building pursuant to existing zoning. The proceeds from this sale will ensure the permanent affordability of 28 units of CGA-owned affordable rental housing along Columbia Street. Without this deal, the affordability restrictions on those units would have eventually expired, resulting in a loss of affordable units in the Columbia Waterfront District. This housing is targeted to individuals who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, with 30 percent of the apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers. The sale also will provide seed funding for CGA to explore the creation of as many as 70 new affordable housing units in Red Hook, working closely with Councilmembers Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca.
As part of this effort, City Council Member Brad Lander encouraged the City to permanently preserve the nearby South Brooklyn Children’s Garden (SBCG) at 204 Columbia Street, which had been operating on a year-to-year lease. In December, the City transferred SBCG from HPD to the Parks Department, thereby permanently preserving it as a community garden. Another 33 community gardens were also protected at that time, including the nearby Pirate’s Cove Community Garden at 311 Columbia Street.
“This agreement is a win-win for our community, and will allow us to permanently preserve much-needed affordable housing, as well as well-used community open space,” said Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander. “This collaboration demanded creativity from all parties—Avery Hall Investments, the Carroll Gardens Association and HPD. Thank you to all parties for considering the community well-being in this deal.”
“Brooklyn's needs for public space and affordable housing are well served by this innovative collaboration,” said Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “This model of elected officials, community organizations, private developers and City agencies working together is worthy of study for future projects serving our communities' best interests.”
The vacant lot at 163 Columbia Street was originally transferred to CGA by HPD in the early 1990s as part of a 7-lot package in the South Brooklyn Renewal Project. The other six lots (143, 149, 151, 159, 165 and 201 Columbia Street) were redeveloped as 28 units of affordable rental housing for low-income families. The lot at 163 Columbia Street was slated to become open space but has remained vacant. As a result of this sale, CGA and HPD have agreed to incorporate language in the regulatory agreement governing the South Brooklyn Renewal HDFC to ensure those 28 units will remain permanently affordable. This agreement will also guarantee that the proceeds from the sale are used to improve and stabilize these buildings.
“We commend Council Member Lander for his leadership and thank Avery Hall Investments for their commitment to working with us to secure HPD and City Council approval leading to a plan that funds the long-term preservation and permanent affordability of the South Brooklyn Renewal project,” said CGA Executive Director Vilma Heramia. "The sale of 163 Columbia Street to Avery Hall Investments will mean that low-income residents will be able to continue to stay in their homes for years to come, and it also will allow the Carroll Gardens Association to pursue planning and development of up to 70 new units of affordable housing in Red Hook.”
Avery Hall Investments, which is developing a 30-unit mixed use project designed by acclaimed architect Morris Adjmi at 465 Atlantic in Boerum Hill (with partner Aria Real Estate Development), and an 8-unit mixed-use project at 325 Henry Street designed by BKSK (with partners OTL Enterprises), is committed to contextual, yet modern, design. The planned development at 163 Columbia will be a 4-unit market-rate residential building.
“Our firm is committed to the future of Brooklyn and we are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Carroll Gardens Association on an agreement that will help preserve affordable housing in the Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook. It also has been gratifying to work with Council Member Lander, whose leadership ensured that this plan will benefit the neighborhood, its residents and community gardeners for years to come,” said Avery Hall Investments Principal Brian Ezra.
Neighbors involved with the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden celebrated the permanent preservation of these cherished spaces:
"We are thrilled to be celebrating the permanent preservation of the South Brooklyn Children's Garden, as well as Pirate's Cove Community Garden, not to mention the preservation of much needed affordable housing in our neighborhood," said Sarah Starling, board president of the South Brooklyn Children's Garden (SBCG)."We are also incredibly grateful to Council Member Brad Lander, whose efforts on our behalf made it possible for us to be part of the permanent green space in the Columbia Waterfront District and remain an asset to our Brooklyn community."
The South Brooklyn Children’s Garden has been an important community institution since 2012, serving as a cooperative garden where members of the local community, particularly children, can learn about agriculture and gardening. The garden is completely volunteer-run and partners with the Food Bank for New York City to bring fresh produce to communities in need. The garden offers free education classes for children and writing workshops throughout the summer and into the fall. The garden hosts dozens of field trips for local preschools and primary schools, camps and children's organizations.