New Homes 100% Affordable
At April’s Community Board 1 public hearing, those attending got one heck of a viewing. St. Nicks Alliance Director of Housing Frank Lang; The Hudson Companies Dir. of Development Max Sarin, and Project Renewal Chief Operating Officer Jody Rudin unveiled the latest development plans for Cooper Park Commons, which sits on the old Greenpoint Hospital site. Now named Cooper Park Commons the development will inhabit an area that is bordered by Kingsland Avenue, Maspeth Avenue, Debevoise Avenue, and Jackson Street.
St. Nicks Alliance and the Hudson Companies were designated to develop the long stagnant site in 2018 by New York City Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). This designation came after more than three decades of community activism by a coalition of neighbors who formed Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corp. (GREC). The community plan was to have 100% affordable housing, affordable senior housing, a 200-bed homeless shelter, community space, among other opportunities for the community. Project Renewal will operate the homeless shelter.
The presentation demonstrated how St. Nicks Alliance and the Hudson Companies followed the community plan created by GREC. This project overall is 100% affordable housing. Numerous meetings with community stakeholders were held since the 2018 designation. The design respects a balance of preserving the historic hospital buildings and adding new elements and buildings that will substantially increase affordable housing in the community and echo the architecture of the historic buildings.
When St. Nicks Alliance was asked for comment, Lang said, “This community has seen great displacement of low- and moderate-income families due to high real estate prices. We are trying to maintain economic diversity in the neighborhood so working families and elderly can stay here.”
Additionally, St. Nicks Alliance Chairman Joseph Robles said, “This development is the culmination of nearly 40 years of community planning and advocacy. St. Nicks Alliance is delighted to be a part of seeing it realized.”
During the CB1 presentation Zarin said, “We’re really fortunate to have partnered with St. Nicks Alliance in this effort. They been active in North BK since the 190s. Project Renewal is one of the oldest most established providers of homeless services. We understand what an endeavor it is to restore [the Greenpoint Hospital site] to that position as a critical asset to this community and addressing all the needs of today. We know there is a long history bringing this vision to fruition and understand all the pressing needs. We’re here to continue the conversation with the community in guiding the project to address the needs of the community.” Max continued that the objective here is to build the best affordable housing in NYC. They will build to market rate and Passive House standards. The latter will secure an eco-friendly footprint and low-energy costs.
The development will also create jobs. Yes it will provide construction jobs to locals, but it also aims for long-term job growth by offering openings in retail, property maintenance, and social services on the site once it is built. In addition, Evergreen and St. Nicks Alliance will operate a business/workforce development center in building 2.
It is estimated that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) will be certified in June of this year. The ULURP is a standardized procedure where applications that affect city land use are publicly reviewed. The Department of City Planning (DCP) then certifies that the application is complete and ready for public review through the ULURP process. If the ULURP for Cooper Park Commons is certified by June 21 as forecasted then BK Community Board 1 will host this presentation again in July, and unusual month for a CB1 meeting as July and August meetings are noted “scheduled as needed”. If all goes to plan the building of Phase 1 will start in April 2022. Phase 1 includes the homeless shelter (building 1) and the 18-story, 311-unit affordable family housing, which will include a walk-in health clinic, a business and workforce development center, and a cafe (building 2). Building 1 is projected to be completed by the end of 2023 and building 2 should be finished by the end of 2024. Phase 2, which includes 109 units of senior affordable housing (building 3) and 137 units of affordable housing plus the relocation of Cooper Park’s senior center (building 4), will begin construction in 2025 with a mid-2027 completion.
The project received an overall unanimous approval from those who chose to speak at the April Community Board 1 meeting. A few had reservations about the 18-story structure, voicing concerns about the shadow’s impact on Cooper Park or that this could open the door to changing height restrictions in the neighborhood. However most who voiced this acknowledged that they didn’t want to lose any affordable units proposed and felt the project should go forward. Responding to the concern that this opens the door to taller buildings, Lang stated this was a special consideration for this site only.
The mid 2020’s will be looking rather dreamy in this neck of Williamsburg. Then we will see 100% affordable green buildings with children’s playrooms, laundry facilities, solar roofs, bike storage, fitness centers, and roof-top terraces, walk-in health clinic, and amenities that encourage tenants to gather and stay active. Also a job training and placement center, retail opportunities, and 60,000 square feet of accessible open space and a new pedestrian thoroughfare extension of Skillman Avenue.