Aug. 31, 2015
The Manhattan site of an early 20th century slaughterhouse turned warehouse turned NYPD parking lot would become home to an affordable housing complex with other amenities under a proposal Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration issued Monday morning.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation is seeking bidders to build a mixed-use facility on the 24,687-square-foot, city-owned site at 495 11th Ave.
The administration is hoping the property’s proximity to the expansive Hudson Yards project, coupled with the upcoming extension of the 7 train, will attract developers.
“The Slaughterhouse Site Request For Proposals takes advantage of the real momentum happening on the far west side of Manhattan to enhance the existing neighborhood through the creation of much-needed affordable housing,” Department of Housing and Preservation Development commissioner Vicki Been said in a prepared statement.
The project sets the bar high for affordable housing by encouraging respondents to build a completely affordable residential project, preferably without any city subsidies.
But the language in the RFP is careful to state that that is just a goal and leaves open the possibility of public subsidies for the project.
The city “will evaluate proposals based on the feasibility of the applicant’s plan to maintain long-term affordability of residential units through cross-subsidy from the commercial and/or community facility uses, without ongoing public subsidy,” according to the RFP.
In other words, the administration is hoping private revenue will fund affordable housing, helping the mayor reach his goal of building 80,000 units and preserving another 120,000 by 2024.
“We have a unique opportunity through this project to activate a prime location in a growing neighborhood for new affordable housing development,” EDC president Maria Torres-Springer said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to advancing the mayor’s Housing New York goals through this project and providing new opportunities and amenities for longtime residents and local businesses in Hell’s Kitchen.”
The 59-page RFP does not define specific targets for affordable housing, but sets the ceiling at 165 percent of the area median income — $128,184 for a family of three, according to federal standards.
The solicitation does encourage respondents to come up with a range of affordability levels. “Proposals that have a maximum of 15 percent studio units and a minimum of 15 percent three-bedroom units are strongly preferred,” it adds.
EDC anticipates that commercial and community space on the site could exceed 100,000 square feet, an agency spokeswoman said.
The agency is looking for proposals that include recommendations from the local community board, including a supermarket, “affordable rehearsal space” and a height restriction on buildings of 450 feet.
The RFP also notes that the local community board has expressed concerns about hotels, and as such, “hotel uses are strongly discouraged.”
Responses are due by Dec. 11.
This is the third solicitation for a development project in conjunction with de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Last month, the EDC sought bidders for a mixed-income development on Spofford Avenue in Hunts Point in the Bronx, and in February, it issued a solicitation for a mixed-income development on a city-owned side in the Jamaica section of Queens.
The agency said it will release more requests for proposals in the coming months for mixed-use developments that require affordable housing.
During the past fiscal year, the administration financed more than 20,000 units of affordable housing, but the overall goal could be complicated by a series of uncertainties, including the future of the 421-a development tax break, City Council approval for a series of rezonings that would require low- and middle-income housing and an outstanding lawsuit threatening the city’s affordable housing lottery program.
Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents the slaughterhouse site, said in an email that the city “must use every tool at our disposal to keep the west side affordable to working- and middle-class New Yorkers and projects like this are key to helping us meet that challenge.”