Halstead targets affordable housing market

By C. J. Hughes | March 31, 2009 10:58AM

 Halstead is marketing affordable housing in Toren (left), the Langston (center) and Beacon Towers (right) 

For years, Halstead Property made a name for itself marketing sparkling luxury condos.

Now, though, the white-shoe firm will also list an apartment type that most New Yorkers may associate with worse-for-wear projects: affordable housing.

In two weeks, in a new section on Halstead’s Web site, buyers can browse among units reserved for those making less than a certain salary. That salary will be based on the median household income in the New York City area, which is $76,820.

Initially, the featured units will be primarily located in two buildings, whose development terms with the city mandated they include below-market units.

The first will be a Harlem co-op called Beacon Towers, an eight-story new brick building at 29 West 138th Street. Its 28 below-market units will be priced from about $300,000 to $475,000. Buyers can make no more than 225 percent of the median income, or about $192,000, said Halstead executive director Stephen Kliegerman.

Also included will be Toren, a new condo going up at 150 Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene. Its approximately 18 affordable units will be listed for between $323,000 and $464,000, Kliegerman said; buyers have to make less than 185 percent of the median income, or about $138,500. Note: correction and clarification appended

Halstead’s site will also offer a few units in the Langston, a luxury condo at 68 Bradhurst Avenue in Harlem where units started closing in 2007, Kliegerman said, adding that affordable rentals may follow on the new section of the site soon.

The prices may be about 25 percent lower than market prices in both buildings, but Halstead may still have a huge hurdle convincing buyers that the finishes and layouts are just as nice as the more expensive versions.

In other words: the firm needs to overcome the “affordable” stigma.

“What we don’t want people to think is that this is very low-level stuff,” Kliegerman said, adding that the company hasn’t yet decided whether to label its Web link “Affordable” or “Restricted Income.”

Typically, these types of affordable units are gobbled up after a lottery that reserves them for local residents, say, or people in certain lower-salary jobs.

But now, in a sign of how far the economy and housing markets have tumbled, those kinds of buyers can no longer afford them even with the discounts; after lotteries in Beacon Towers and Toren, dozens of apartments went unsold, leading to their debut on the open market, brokers said.

For its part, rival brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman does not currently market affordable units, but vice chairman Dolly Lenz applauded the idea.

“While [the word] ‘affordable’ may have tainted [sales of] property in the past, I think it’s the next chic term, so it’s very clever,” Lenz said. “I wouldn’t have said that six months ago.”

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