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Adjmi's Flatiron condo continues to face opposition despite City Planning approval

It’s one of the first real tests of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy

The Morris Adjmi-designed condo in the Flatiron District continues to be enveloped by a controversy surrounding the interpretation of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing(MIH). On Monday, the city’s Planning Commission decided not to force the developer behind the project, Acuity Capital Partners, to include affordable units in the two towers located at 38-42 West 18th Street, and 41-43 West 17th Street, the New York Times reports.

One of the first projects to be interpreted through the new MIH laws—where developers who seek rezoning for taller towers or more units also have to provide affordable housing—the 16-and-17-story towers have been the center of controversy of late. Community advocates and politicians have argued that the project should not be exempt from providing at least 20 to 30 percent affordable units (It’s located in the Ladies Mile Historic District).

But the Planning Commission has countered that by saying that the developer is already responsible for maintaining the landmarked properties adjacent to these new towers —a five-story loft building and a four-story tenement building, and that developer was building around the existing buildings and reorganizing the air rights already within the property.

The Planning Commission reiterated this argument Monday when seven commissioners voted in favor of the project and three abstained. Carl Weisbrod, the chair of the Commission, said the developer would likely have provided affordable housing had an incentive like 421-a been in place.

As was expected, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed a letter objecting to the decision, and it now means the matter will go before the City Council. The developer has already suggested that of the project’s 62 units, about five or six might be affordable, according to the Times, but local advocates will likely want more.