Affordable housing is a go at 5WTC — for higher earners
Port Authority, Hochul add 60 income-restricted units but raise AMI thresholds
The residential tower planned for 5 World Trade Center is set to receive more affordable housing than originally planned. It won’t be enough to satisfy critics, though.
The Port Authority and Empire State Development boards approved measures that would set aside 30 percent of the development’s units for income-restricted affordable housing, The City reported. The affordable share was previously slated to be 25 percent; the jump is from 300 to 360 of the 1,200 units.
Those two boards needed to approve the measure for the 900-foot tower by developers Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties. The Public Authorities Control Board, controlled by state legislative leaders, still needs to approve the project.
But the increase in affordable housing may not make the building more affordable. While there are 60 more affordable units than previously planned, the income requirements attached to that housing have shifted.
The 25 percent affordability plan targeted households earning between 40 percent and 80 percent of the city’s area median income. In presentations made by the staffs of both government agencies, the 30 percent affordability plan targets households earning between 60 percent and 110 percent of the AMI.
“By making it more affordable — a larger percentage — they made it less affordable by removing the deepest AMI,” Mariama James, co-founder of Coalition for a 100% Affordable 5WTC, told The City.
As its name suggests, the coalition has been advocating for a completely affordable property at the site, particularly to benefit survivors of 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families.
More affordable housing could be on the table if another public subsidy or funding source can be identified by April 2024, according to ESD executive Tobi Jaiyesimi.
Critics of making all units at 5 WTC income-restricted noted that the heavy subsidy required to do that could produce far more affordable housing if allocated elsewhere. Building skyscrapers in the Financial District is extremely expensive.
The site is the last empty one at the World Trade Center. Under a deal, the Port Authority will reel in $12.5 million a year once construction finishes as part of a land swap with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
— Holden Walter-Warner