Assemblyman Mosley Statement: Glass Half-Full on Developer’s Affordable Housing Proposal at 960 Franklin Avenue

March 12, 2019

In our current climate, where rapid gentrification, large-scale development and community displacement has led to the worst housing crisis in decades, it has understandably become the norm to immediately rebuke developers who saunter into our neighborhoods, selling our community half-genuine promises. However, I have numerous reasons to remain optimistic when it comes to the substantial affordable housing proposal slated for the old Spice Factory on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. 

Currently within Brooklyn’s Community Board 9, 66.3% of the population is Black and another 9.6% Hispanic.  With 76% of the population being people of color, and the existing rent burden seeing 49% of the population spending 35% or more of their income on rent, the proposed ratio of actual affordable housing will allow this population to experience some relief from existing rents and unaffordability. 

"Located between Prospect Park and Ebbets Field, this site is slated to include approximately 1,600 housing units - 50% of them being for lower, middle and moderate income families. Of the affordable units proposed - 40% of them will accommodate families at or below 50% AMI, with incomes as low as $36,550 for a single person - 20% of them will accommodate families at or below 80% AMI, or a two  person household making $66,800 - 20% of them will accommodate families at or below 100% AMI, or a three person household making $93,900 and the remaining 20% of them will accommodate families at or below 120% AMI - true newly Union constructed and permanently affordable housing for Brooklyn's struggling working and middle class families. In addition to this substantial level of affordability, which is something that has been missing from many of the development projects in Central Brooklyn, this project will be Union built and Union financed, using 100% union labor and garnering full support from labor unions."

Possible opponents of this proposal, rightfully so, are concerned over the height and shadow impact these proposed housing towers would have on the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, located on the east side of Prospect Park. While I share these concerns over the shadow impact on our vital green spaces, it is my understanding that the developer has been working closely with the New York City Department of City Planning to address these issues, including restructuring the tower design to mitigate shadow impact, and updating the contextual zoning. In addition, they have conducted a shadow-study using New York State’s guidelines, the results of which have shown these towers to only cast shadows for approximately two to three early morning hours on average, per day, clearing up by late morning and allowing for approximately six or more hours of direct sunlight over the impacted area each day.

At a time when affordable housing is scarce, and the landscape of our community is rapidly changing before our eyes, we as a community need to get creative in how we address the worst housing crisis we’ve experienced since the 1930s. This proposal for the Spice Factory site does not include luxury condos, nor does it strictly offer services and benefits to the few at the cost of the many. In fact, this is one of the few proposals I’ve seen come through my district that offers truly substantial bands of affordability and benefits for working class families.

Before we prematurely oppose the developer, we must come together and have a conversation with the developer to learn what this deal really entails. As such, I commend the developer and the Department of City Planning for working together to ensure this project meets the needs of our community, while simultaneously addressing affordable housing, union labor, and environmental preservation,” said Assemblyman Mosley.