The city must ensure developers can’t weasel out of a proposal that would require them to create below-market-rate housing when building on rezoned land, says a panel of Bushwickians that tentatively okayed the scheme on Wednesday night.
Locals are still angry after the developers of the derelict Rheingold brewery on Flushing Avenue were able to blow off a promise to include below-market units in the property with no consequences, and said they don’t want to see that happen again.
“The Rheingold is such a terrible precedent,” said Anne Guiney, a member the Community Board 4’s housing and land use committee, who voted to support the plan. “I think that has made everybody very, very cautious and concerned, specifically about enforcement.”
Board members voted 17–11 to approve Mayor DeBlasio’s so-called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing scheme — which would require developers looking to rezone land so they can erect big buildings to set aside at least 25 percent of units for so-called “affordable” housing — but on the condition that the city find an air-tight way to police the program to prevent fiascos like the Rheingold redevelopment.
In that case, the city agreed to rezone the old brewery site for residential high-rises in 2013, after owner Read Property Group signed a pledge to include hundreds of below-market units in the new towers there. But Read then sold land to two other real estate companies earlier this year, both of which have refused to make the same commitment and aren’t beholden to the original agreement.
City reps claimed that they are already working on an enforcement strategy and will have one set in stone by the time the new rule takes effect, or not long after.