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July 31, 2007

The not-so-natural process of Williamsburg gentrification

Atlantic Yards Report

Local ACORN Dir. Bertha Lewis has tried to sell Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards plan as a hedge against the rising tide of gentrification, explaining "If I could stop one iota of gentrification, I’ll do it."

Norman Oder looks at an analysis of gentrification and affordable housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, where inclusionary zoning and market forces may give Atlantic Yards watchdogs some clues to whether or not Bertha Lewis has a clue.

So, how well did the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning work in terms of providing affordable housing? How far along is gentrification? Some sobering observations, if not a full statistical analysis, emerge from an analysis by graduate students at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. The report, Gentrification and Rezoning, Williamsburg-Greenpoint, was produced in conjunction with The New York City Community Council.

For example, the study concludes that inclusionary zoning—which provides increased development rights in exchange for including affordable housing—has worked well on waterfront parcels, where there is both public land to be used and sufficient space to build back.

However, on smaller upland parcels where there’s less room to build bigger overall, “the inclusionary program does not appear to be enough of an incentive to encourage the development of affordable housing.” Instead, developers have taken advantage of the existing 421-a tax exemption, which, until reforms go into effect next year, does not require affordable units in exchange.

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Posted by lumi at July 31, 2007 9:03 AM