City Planning Approves New Affordable Housing on NYCHA-Leased Land in Mott Haven

Rendering of Betances VI. Image Credit: NYC CPC

The building will feature supportive housing with in-building staff to provide services. On January 30, 2019, the City Planning Commission voted to approve an application for the development of a 15 story mixed-use building in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. The building will have approximately 100 residential units and will be located at 472-474 Willis Avenue between East 146th and East 147th Streets. The development site will be leased to the development team by NYCHA.

NYCHA presented the application at the City Planning Commission public hearing on December 19, 2018. The project is a part of the Make Mott Haven Transformation Plan, created in 2014 in part to add affordable housing to Mott Haven. This project, Betances VI, was announced in April 2017. At that time, NYCHA selected the development team, which consists of Lemle & Wolff, the general contractor and property manager who will handle marketing and leasing; Alembic Community Development, who will manage the housing financing and underwriting and the construction oversight and management; The Bridge, who will provide supportive housing services; and Think! Architecture, who designed the building.

NYCHA currently owns the one-story unoccupied commercial building occupying the development site in a mixed-use residential and commercial zoning district. To facilitate the project, the applicants requested a rezoning that would increase the maximum residential FAR from 3.0 to 5.0. on the applicant’s site. The rezoning would cover half of the block on Willis Avenue between East 146th and East 147th Streets and cover the development site and another NYCHA residential property next door that is a part of the Betances North Housing Development.

NYCHA will be leasing the development site to the development team long-term and will not pay for any part of the construction, operation or maintenance of the new building.

The new building will have 19 studio, 44 one-bedroom, 23 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom apartments with an additional super’s unit. None of the units will be market rate. Seventy of the units will be considered affordable housing and the remaining 30 units will be supportive housing. NYCHA residents will have a preference for new apartments and no residents will be displaced.

Affordable Housing

The applicant team elected to pursue Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 2, which requires 30 percent of the affordable housing (21 units) to be permanent affordable housing at 60 percent AMI. The remaining 49 affordable units would be subject to extensive affordability requirements for at least 60 years.

The MIH units will be affordable at a range from 40 percent AMI to 80 percent AMI, with the majority of the affordable apartments at 60 percent AMI. At 40 percent AMI, a studio apartment would be $662 per month, and a two-bedroom would be $863 per month. At 60 percent AMI, a studio would be $1,027 per month, and a two-bedroom would be $1,332 per month. At 80 percent AMI, a studio would be $1,392 per month, and a two-bedroom would be $1,802 per month. At the City Planning public hearing on December 19, 2018, the applicant team stated that they were exploring deeper affordability options based on feedback from elected officials.

Supportive Housing

The 30 remaining units would be supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals at a rate of 30 percent AMI. The Bridge, a social services organization that provides mental health services and independent living support, will provide supportive services including case management and service planning, and extensive connections to services around the Bronx for residents in the supportive apartments.

The building will have 24/7 front desk security, a resident terrace, community room, laundry room, and a social services office. There will also be approximately 8,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The type of retail put in place will be based on the market needs of the community.

The project will be financed through the HPD Extremely Low & Low-Income Affordability (ELLA) Program, 4% Tax-Credit HDC tax-exempt bond financing and second mortgage. The applicants are also applying for a 420-c tax abatement.

On October 25, 2018, Bronx Community Board 1 voted to disapprove the application with modifications with a vote of 23 to disapprove, three to approve, and zero abstained.

On December 13, 2018, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. approved of the application stating “Consisting of 101 units, and additional retail development, Betances VI will bring Mott Haven affordable housing ranging from 40 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) to as much as 80 percent of AMI.

City Council will review the application next.


By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)


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