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Developers and city officials spar over De Blasio’s inclusionary housing plan

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Varying interpretations of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing have created conflicts

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) plan was supposed to have a clear-cut purpose: to require developers to create a certain amount of affordable housing units in new development projects in exchange for their receiving of residential rezoning. But confusion and conflicting opinions on the plans’ interpretation is allegedly creating tension and stalling projects, reports the Real Deal.

The problem arises when developers attempt to make changes to original plans, whether it be shape or size, without altering the overall square footage. Though technically, they should be allowed to do this without having to adopt the MIH policy, city council and the City Planning Commission can’t seem to agree on this one.

TRD cites the Morris Adjmi-designed project on West 18th Street where this exact scenario is unfolding. City Planning determined that developer Acuity Capital Partners was in the clear to build its 62-unit condo without requiring affordable housing; Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer argued that they should not be exempt from the rule. From a previous Curbed report:

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.

This, according to REBNY president John Banks, is causing much consternation among developers. "With that level of uncertainty, whether or not you’re able to move forward (with a project) is really problematic," he said at a panel.

Meanwhile, in Inwood, city council member Ydanis Rodriguez led a crusade against a proposed project at 4650 Broadway, though developers were willing to follow the MIH plan. The developers sought to have the area rezoned to allow for a 17-story tower with 355 apartments, half of which would have been affordable. However, Rodriguez along with residents countered that the project would only accelerate gentrification in Inwood. Now developers can construct a 14-story building without including any affordable housing at all.

A frustrated Mayor de Blasio told Crain’s, "[P]eople are frustrated by gentrification and development, and then turn down an opportunity to create affordable the developer gets to do whatever he wants." On a similar note, Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks stated, "People want affordable housing, but they don’t want it in their community."

Of course, MIH is still relatively new, so it remains to be seen how this will play out in the coming months and year.