Press | July 27, 2011

Co-op Heaven – Mad for Mixed-Income

Real Estate BisNow


There’s a perception that market-rate buyers in NYC are hesitant to buy in mixed-income developments. But the 75% affordable, 25% market-rate Atlantic Terrace at 212 South Oxford in Brooklyn is proving the perception wrong. We met with Fifth Avenue Committee exec director Michelle de la Uz (and her lovely ‘just because’ floral arrangement), whose non-profit, along with partners Mega Contracting and Magnusson Architecture and Planning, developed the 80-unit one-, two-, and three-bedroom co-ops, of which 59 are subsidized. There’s tremendous demand in this neighborhood, she says, pointing out that 75% of the units are now sold, including 50% of the market rate units—and 5,000 people signed up for a supervised lottery of the 59 affordable units. “People are attracted to New York City because of this diversity,” she says. “Brooklyn has been undergoing a rapid gentrification, and now teachers and musicians are living among corporate executives.” (Perhaps the Brooklynites can give the world a lesson on living in harmony. And a lesson in really tight pants and vinyl records.)


But why co-op? Michelle says there was more attractive financing available, particularly from the NYC Housing Development Corporation. These savings will then trickle down to the residents, assuring affordability for the long-term. Also, closing costs are lower, removing another barrier to entry. The building, which is part of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, is a brownfield redevelopment of a former gas station site and is one of the City’s “Cornerstone Projects” of housing built for first-time homebuyers. FAC originally submitted a proposal that was 50% affordable and 50% market rate, but due to increased demand for affordable homeownership opportunities and the desire to expand the level of affordability to more moderate and middle-income families, the project is now 75% affordable for families at a range of incomes, with 25% available for market-rate purchasers.


But even though the co-ops are affordable and market-rate, they certainly feel at home among the luxury residential buildings dotting Brooklyn’s skyline. The building, which was built to LEED Gold standards, includes bamboo flooring, countertops made at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and cabinets made in Williamsburg and Gowanus (were the staging props sourced from the Red Hook IKEA?). Seven of the market-rate units are duplexes, and include private terraces overlooking the borough and up-and-close views of the new Barclays Center—it’s like built-in season tickets. There’s also a community room and landscaped terrace for all of the residents. Overall, FAC has 1k mixed units in development in Brooklyn and has developed and manages locations in Red Hook, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Carroll Gardens, and Sunset Park (fun fact: the first co-op in NYC was established in Sunset Park by Finnish immigrants in the early 1900s).