Lopez bill would make developers build affordable units to get bonus

A month ago, Councilmember Margarita Lopez submitted a bill to the City Council to require that developers building south of 14th St. in Manhattan include affordable apartments as part of their projects in return for getting tax abatements that are automatically given in this area. Currently, in Manhattan from 14th to 96th Sts., developers must build 20 percent affordable units to qualify for the 421a tax abatements. So-called “80/20” projects, these contain 80 percent market-rate units. However, Lopez’s East Side district has seen a boom of market-rate development in recent years, leading to her call to end the exemption for Downtown.

“This is an initiative that has been required for years by Community Board 3,” said Nuris Rodriguez, Lopez’s chief of staff, “because we don’t need an incentive [here] anymore! Originally, the area was considered underdeveloped. When you look around, you see that’s not the case anymore. We need affordable housing desperately.”

Harvey Epstein, Board 3’s chairperson, concurred: “By the mid-’90s, we didn’t need to spur development down here.”

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