In an ambitious plan to develop or renew 300,000 affordable housing units, New York City is taking different approaches. This one includes one of the country's most notable architects, who happens to be famed for designs on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Robert A.M. Stern’s namesake architecture firm has designed some of the city’s most celebrated luxury addresses: 15 Central Park West and 30 Park Place among them, which feature limestone exteriors and multimillion-dollar units.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the firm’s latest proposals, in Brooklyn, is pretty nice. The beige-brick building has a roof with pergolas, a gym and homes ranging from 300-square-foot studios to 1,100-square-foot three-bedrooms. Dubbed Edwin’s Place and located at 3 Livonia Ave. in Brownsville, it’s a 126-unit development — where rents start at $462 monthly for a studio — for low-income and homeless tenants, as well as veterans.
The project is now undergoing City Council review and faces its final vote this week.
“It’s vital that residents know we’re interested in building and investing in the community,” says Brenda Rosen, the president and CEO of Breaking Ground, a nonprofit developer working on Edwin’s Place with another nonprofit, the African American Planning Commission. “Our goal is for someone to walk down a block and not know which buildings are affordable and which are market-rate. Great design should be for everyone.”
Low-income housing can be synonymous with shoddy structures, as can supportive housing, which provides on-site services for the disabled and formerly homeless.
These days, the status quo is quite the opposite: A number of developments that have recently debuted or are in the pipeline — like the snazzy 38 Sixth Ave. in Brooklyn, as well as Edwin’s Place — boast designs and features akin to their full-price counterparts.
Sources largely attribute this movement to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York agenda, which aims to create or preserve 300,000 affordable units by 2026.Read More