NO Adorama special permit unless MIH is applied!

Councilmember Corey Johnson, New York City Council

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The Chicago-based corporation Acuity Capital Partners is trying to strike a deal with the New York City Council. They want to build a new private housing development project above the Adorama camera shop in Chelsea, Manhattan without having to follow Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) rules.

In exchange for a contribution to private development that would include affordable housing elsewhere, Acuity would be able to not include any affordable housing units in the Chelsea development. The result would be extra profits for themselves and other real-estate corporations. It would set a precedent for using the MIH rules to exclude working people from new apartments in affluent neighborhoods like Chelsea, while continuing to build new luxury apartments in working-class neighborhoods around the city, especially in communities of color.

Corey Johnson, who was elected to represent the people of Chelsea, plans to support this scheme. Carl Weisbrod, who was appointed by Bill de Blasio to lead the Department of City Planning, is also taking the side of the development corporation.

We need you to send an email to District3@council.nyc.gov and say to Corey Johnson, "As a strong advocate for affordable housing, I urge you to vote NO on the Adorama Special Permit unless Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) is applied." Call his office at (212) 564-7757 to send the same message. Leave a comment in this petition to explain to Councilmember Johnson why you believe we need more affordable housing in New York City.

The City Council is expected to vote on the Adorama Special Permit on Wednesday, September 28th. Find your City Council Member at http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml and tell them, "As a strong advocate for affordable housing, I urge you to vote NO on the Adorama Special Permit unless Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) is applied."


Background:

The City Planning Commission voted to permit the construction of new luxury condo units without the affordable housing requirement of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) at 42 W. 18th S. the “Adorama” development. Private equity company Acuity Capital Partners wants to build 26 more luxury units than existing zoning rules allow by modifying what are known as “bulk” regulations through a special permit. Although MIH is required whenever a developer can significantly increase their residential floor area as a result of a zoning change, the city is failing to apply the law. Relying on a flawed legal analysis, the CPC says that MIH should only apply to special permits when that permit allows for a significant increase in residential floor area “permitted” under the underlying zoning regulations.

It’s now up to the City Council to decide whether or not the affordable housing requirements of MIH apply to a special permit application at 42 West 18th Street, the “Adorama” development. If the City Council approves the project without MIH, it will set a dangerous precedent for all future special permit applications whereby discretionary land use actions like these are simply developer giveaways—rather than affordable housing opportunities. Citywide, since de Blasio has taken office, the City Planning Commission has considered 107 special permit applications that look to modify building bulk regulations. While not all of these applications would increase building area enough to trigger MIH, many of them could, potentially adding up to hundreds of lost units of affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis.

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To: Councilmember Corey Johnson, New York City Council
From: [Your Name]

As a strong advocate for affordable housing, I urge you to vote NO on the Adorama Special Permit unless Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) is applied. I believe we need more affordable housing.

MIH requires that any developer who benefits from a significant increase in their residential square footage as a result of a zoning action must include affordable housing units. Yet at 42 W. 18th St, the City Planning Commission is failing to apply the law. If the Adorama Special ­Permit is approved without MIH, it will set a dangerous precedent that special permits similar to the type used here would be exempt. In the past three years there have been 107 projects like that. What’s more, developments such as Stuyvesant-­town could transfer air rights to a lot across the street and build 100% luxury with no affordable units.

We can't afford to have a City Council that backs down when the Mayor’s appointees at the City Planning Commission refuse to apply the affordable housing laws as adopted by the City Council. Please do not accept the flawed arguments of a private equity firm and the Real Estate Board of New York over my concerns and those of other community members. Our neighborhood does not need another luxury condo.

Thank you again for your hard work on behalf of tenants and affordable housing.