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February 29, 2008

Atlantic Yards Report shorts

Norman Oder posted four short articles on Atlantic Yards Report this morning:

Driving Miss Brooklyn, a troubled Brooklyn condo market?

Apparently Forest City Ratner's decision to shift flagship Atlantic Yards tower Miss Brooklyn from condos to office space was based on discernible trends in the industry. (Then again, things can change, given that Miss Brooklyn was supposed to be office space when announced in December 2003.)

In yesterday's New York Sun, real estate columnist Michael Stoler suggested that many in the real estate community see a growing divide between the luxury market in Manhattan and some of the more speculative projects in fringe areas.

AY affordable housing a myth? Better to call it delayed
It seems that each time the press reports the story about the scarcity of funds for affordable housing and the impact on Atlantic Yards, the stakes get raised:

Like a game of "telephone," in which a message gets mangled as it gets passed from one party to another, the Atlantic Yards affordable housing story grows ever murkier.

The New York Observer's summary yesterday:

Federal funding crunch means Forest City Ratner won't be able to build 3,000 affordable-housing units at Atlantic Yards, fulfilling the prophesies of its opponents. [Brooklyn Paper]

But the Brooklyn Paper article reported only that a federal cash crunch threatens the promised 2250 units of affordable housing, adding some more voices to a story I reported a week ago.

That doesn't mean the promised affordable housing is dead. After all, a Democratic administration in Washington just might allow a state like New York much more capacity to authorize tax-exempt bonds.

The change in the Senate and the stakes for housing
When the balance of power shifts in the State Senate, rent laws in New York may get a second look:

The special election Tuesday to elect a State Senator in the 48th Senatorial district reduced the Republicans margin to 32-30, with several vulnerable Republicans expected to face tough competition in November. Portrayed in the press as a victory for Gov. Eliot Spitzer--and it is--the ramifications for New York City may be felt most sharply in the area of housing.

"The election today may change how we look at the rent laws," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said at a housing panel at the New-York Historic Society on Tuesday, when the results of the election had not yet surfaced.

Since 1971, the legislature, not the City Council, has held the most power over rent regulation, thanks to the Urstadt Law. A Democratic legislature, with a Democratic governor, will be far more receptive to maintaining and strengthening rent protections, and restoring "home rule."

The city's pension funds finally take on "predatory equity"
This article covers an existing affordable-housing concern, rather than Atlantic Yards affordable housing:

When in November, I reported on a conference where participants discussed the practice of "predatory equity"--investment funds making speculative investments in rental housing, intending to raise rents significantly--I was astonished that only the grassroots policy publication City Limits had previously covered the story.

After all, housing advocates had discovered that city pension funds had a stake in such investment funds. Politicians like City Council Member Letitia James weren't making a huge case about it, either, apparently waiting to get New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson and the city pension funds on board.

Yesterday, the above parties, as well as other elected officials and housing advocates held a press conference in which they announced a new residential real estate investment principles.

Posted by lumi at February 29, 2008 4:50 AM