After a more than a year of debate between NYCHA and current residents, the city has officially released renderings of the new mixed-income tower set to rise on top of an existing playground at the Holmes Towers public housing complex on the Upper East Side, DNAInfo reports.
The 47-story tower, a project of the city’s NextGen program, will rise amid the existing buildings on East 93rd Street. In addition to the 300 new units of housing — half to be designated as affordable, half to be listed at market rate — the plans show a new 18,000-square-foot rec center, run by Asphalt Green, as well as 14,500 square feet of new playgrounds.
"This energy-efficient project will provide much-needed affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, a dynamic new community facility, job opportunities for NYCHA residents, and a much-needed infusion of revenue to address the capital needs of existing NYCHA buildings," Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement.
The project will be developed by Fetner Properties, which won the bid after the city put out an RFP in July. (The Daily News notes that Harold Fetner and his family have been major donors to Mayor de Blasio, putting $39,150 toward his various campaigns. A Fetner spokesperson told the paper implying any sort of link between the money and the contract would be “absurd.”)
In a statement, Fetner Properties CEO Harold Fetner said that “we are committed to working with local stakeholders as we follow a community-minded plan that will help strengthen NYCHA infrastructure while creating new opportunities and programs for NYCHA families.”
But while the project has garnered its share of community support, not everyone is pleased with the plans. The main complaint: that affordable units, which Fetner has said will be “evenly” distributed throughout the building, won’t be all that affordable after all. The units will be designated for residents earning less than $41,000 for an individual and $52,000 for a family of three—too high to actually meet the needs of the community, critics say.
As Councilman Ben Kallos pointed out, the minimum annual income for one of the new affordable apartments is $38,100, which is above the eligible income for NYCHA residents. “It's pouring salt in a wound that they're building housing that none of the NYCHA residents can get into,” he told DNAInfo.