Brooklyn developments avert disaster with rezoning deal

Council member had demanded Atlantic Avenue projects start over

EMP Capital Group's Elie Pariente with 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue (LinkedIn, Herokuapp)
EMP Capital Group's Elie Pariente with 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue (LinkedIn, Herokuapp)

UPDATED April 21, 2022, 12:40 p.m.: In January, City Council member Crystal Hudson seemed to torpedo two major residential developments in her district, asking developers EMP Capital and Y&T Development to withdraw their applications so she could be involved from the start.

That would have meant lost time, increased costs and, perhaps most important, no chance of starting construction before the 421a tax break expired.

But now there’s a deal.

Hudson, it turns out, was willing to negotiate. She has announced that Y&T and EMP agreed to significantly increase the amount of affordable housing in their 17-story tall projects at 870-888 Atlantic Avenue and 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue, respectively.

In return for Hudson’s support, which ensures the rezonings needed by the projects will be approved by the full Council, each developer will offer 35 percent of its apartments at below-market rates. They will also contribute $100,000 each to anti-displacement efforts.

The two development firms are relatively unknown. EMP is led by Elie Pariente, who has bought smaller properties in Soho and Fidi, while Joel Teitelbaum heads up Y&T. Both projects share the same architect, Brooklyn-based Archimaera.

“Today we have shown that developers can do more than MIH,” Hudson said in a statement referring to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law. “Our new floor is 35 percent [affordable units]. We can ask all developers, at a minimum, to do the same thing moving forward.”

MIH generally requires 25 percent or 30 percent of units be affordable, depending on the level of affordability for those apartments. The deal with Hudson requires deeper affordability than the city law, which established a floor in rezoned areas from which Council members could negotiate.

Both developments have until June 15 to get their foundations in the ground if they want to qualify for the 421a tax exemption, which is expiring. On April 15, EMP filed plans for its development at 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue, outlining a 214,000-square-foot structure with 17 stories and 193 apartments.

The two rezonings will now head to the Land Use committee before continuing on to the full Council and Mayor Eric Adams. But under political custom in New York City, Hudson’s support makes the approvals formalities.

Hudson also announced that the Adams administration has committed to prioritize a community-led plan for further development along Atlantic Avenue in Crown and Prospect Heights.

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1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue (Archimaera)

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The mayor’s buy-in would separate the new plan from earlier versions of M-Crown, a development scheme that aimed to set size and affordability thresholds along the busy artery. While the local community board supported the plan, the city never signed on, so it went nowhere.

Hudson said the comprehensive community plan will ensure her district’s infrastructure and public services are ready for an influx of new residents.

“This is a community that wants to see Atlantic Avenue rezoned. They want to build housing, but it must be done the right way,” Hudson said.

At both developments, 15 percent of the units will be reserved for households earning 40 percent of the area median income. Another 15 percent will be preserved for residents making no more than 60 percent of area median income, and 5 percent for those earning up to 80 percent.

Atlantic Avenue east of Barclays Center, home to many low-slung industrial buildings that are far less lucrative than densely built housing would be, is becoming a prime target for residential development.

The proposals come just months after a mixed-use project at the site of a McDonald’s at 840 Atlantic Avenue backed by Rabsky Group’s Simon Dushinsky was approved by the former Council member Laurie Cumbo at the 11th hour.

Across Vanderbilt Avenue from the burger joint is the east end of the Pacific Park (formerly Atlantic Yards) megaproject, and across Atlantic Avenue is a new Jeffrey Gershon apartment building where a car wash and bar used to be.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the address of EMP Capital’s project as 870-888 Atlantic Avenue, which is actually the site of Y&T Development’s project. EMP’s project is at 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue.