NYC is banking on Common to deliver affordable beds

Common and Atlanta-based PadSpilt submitted winning proposals as part of its affordable co-living pilot program

Brad Hargreaves and a project illustration (Credit: Francesco Sapienza)
Brad Hargreaves and a project illustration (Credit: Francesco Sapienza)

New York City is jumping into bed with two co-living firms to build affordable housing.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development said Tuesday it will work with Common and Atlanta-based PadSplit — along with each firm’s development partner — to create co-living units.

The announcement is the result of a pilot program HPD launched last year, dubbed ShareNYC, offering developers public funds to create income-restricted units in co-living buildings. HPD selected three proposals from an open application process and is now moving into pre-development where financing for each project will be determined.

Common teamed up with L+M Development Partners on the program’s largest project: two buildings in East Harlem in which 253 beds — about two-thirds of the total — will be reserved for tenants within a range of incomes. The rest will be market-rate. L+M is leading the project in a joint venture with LIHC Investment Group, one of the country’s largest affordable housing owners.

The beds will be spread across 56 shared housing units, each with kitchens and bathrooms and not segregated by income. In a release, Common noted that tenants of all incomes would “enjoy equal amenities and services.” The complex is slated to have a library, gym and outdoor space. Common services include free weekly cleaning.

Brad Hargreaves, Common’s founder and CEO, noted in a text message that its ShareNYC project will be distinct because he expects it to be permitted as “rooming units” instead of as a typical multifamily property.

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“It gives us more layout flexibility and the ability to do things like lease by the bedroom and put locks on room doors, which we are not allowed to do in other Common projects,” he wrote.

A spokesperson for HPD said Common’s project is expected to receive an Article XI exemption that could alleviate real estate taxes in part or in full for up to 40 years.

Hargreaves also noted that cities such as New Orleans and San Jose are also using the co-living model to add affordable housing. Common recently announced partnerships to develop affordable housing in New Orleans and Atlanta.

The proposal by PadSplit and East New York–based Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation involves renovating a two-story building to deliver 11 shared units for low-income tenants.

The third proposal selected is from East Harlem–based affordable developer Ascendant Neighborhood Development and the Ali Forney Center, a community center for LGBTQ youth, for new construction in East Harlem. The 10-story building is slated to contain 36 beds, all for low-income tenants.

The East New York and East Harlem projects are expected to receive financing through HPD lending programs, according to the agency.