Friday, December 23, 2011

Another Major Residential Development Planned for St. Marks

(part of the site is pictured on the right)

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported yesterday that 505 St. Marks Avenue sold for $4.5 million to a developer, which comes out to approximately $48 per buildable square foot. The CHCA had previously reported that the property would be redeveloped as a halfway house, but this sale seems to rule out that possibility. The buyer is planning a 94,000 square foot, 128-unit, all market-rate residential development on the site of the former day care center, which sits on the north side of St. Marks between Franklin and Classon (just west of the shuttle tracks and the just-finished St. Marks Gardens affordable housing development, and across the street from the Jewish Hospital residential complex). 

The planned development would be a major addition to the area that Nostrand Park dubbed "Four Corners" last year as it continues shift dramatically from a light-industrial area (with some limited housing mixed in) to a residential one. 128 units is a big development - the 8-story St. Marks Gardens next door is only 38 units - and at all-market-rate, it's safe to say it's not going to attract local folks displaced by local gentrification. On the other hand, a new development on a property that wasn't residential before won't directly displace people, though it certainly precludes other uses (like a halfway house or day care center) and contributes to the overall trajectory of change along the Avenue. 

At the very least, this is one site to watch (along with the giant hole) over the next few months. 


  1. Why should any of the units not be at market rate?

  2. The sale of this property was announced by Brownstoner back in Octofber.

    Given the lack of funding and incentives to construct affordable housing, there really is no reason we should expect to see much developed locally over the next few years. The nonprofits struggle to afford the land prices for service centers like clinics and the like, much less housing.

    Given the number of units they plan to build relative to the sq ft, the finished units will only be around 600 sq ft each. They won't be fabulous, but they will bring more moderate housing to a city that desperately needs it. I imagine they will be similar in cost to the apartments in the renovated hospital complex.

    Like everything else, Housing goes first to those who can afford it..

    I think the developer is making a safe bet by with rentals; the area still has too much crime and risk of a downturn for many home buyers

  3. I don't think I said anywhere in there that the units shouldn't be market-rate. I'm just trying to pose some questions about how the development fits into the broader trajectory of neighborhood change (who it affects and how, etc). I'm also not complaining about affordable housing on St. Marks - as I pointed out, the city just funded an affordable housing development next door (MikeF, do you have any insights about this project in the context of what you pointed out about the difficulty of building affordable housing?). Brownstoner and Massey Realty had this linked a couple of months ago (as I found out googling after I read the Eagle piece), but I heard about it through the Eagle and had missed it on Brownstoner, so I cited them and re-posted it (still strikes me as interesting). Any way you slice it, this is going to be a pretty big building that houses a lot of people, and it's going to make an impact on the surrounding area.

    In the grand scheme of things, I am a big believer in mixed-income buildings (and that can happen in a market-rate context: studios and penthouses don't attract the same demographic, even if they're in the same building), because I think mixed-income neighborhoods build cross-class connections and alliances that benefit all parties involved, but that's another can of worms.

    What's most interesting to me about this is how the strip between Franklin and Classon on St. Marks doesn't fit the straw-man gentrification mold: sure, there's a lot of new housing for new arrivals, but there's also a very affordable new supermarket, a subsidized housing development, an active storefront church, a diner straight out of Sheepshead Bay, and other new bits and pieces, all of which have come in over the last three years. Sure, there's an obvious trend with respect to new arrivals, but there are a lot of other things going on that benefit a much wider swath of people, too. This development will have a big impact on the microdynamics in the area, and I'm curious to see how that plays out.

  4. Neighborhood change rarely takes place in the way it's proponents or opponents predict.

    To the extent that there are "sides" both engage in hyperbole, that turns out to be wrong in retrospect.

    The funding for affordable housing has radically diminished over the past few years, and the credit markets are much more difficult. The funding for the "new" affordable development you cite was obtained in a different "era", but I too would be pleased if a developer some how managed to make a new affordable housing project for families financially break even.

    ....the social gains from such housing is far harder to achieve when they end up only being placed in neighborhoods that have problems worse than ours.

    But with out funds and policies, we are merely whiners about what could have been.