A long-awaited project to bring almost 800 affordable housing unites to Brooklyn finally broke ground on Monday, which the de Blasio administration is counting towards tally of new homes for New York City's working class.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Alicia Glen, the mayor's deputy for housing and economic development, joined local leaders in East New York on Monday for the first dig into the new development.
Scheduled for completion by December 2016, the first phase of Livonia Commons project will bring 278 affordable units within four buildings on what used to be vacant, city-owned land.
The mayor said that his administration's goal of 200,000 new affordable units would reclaim the city's own underdeveloped spaces to meet the city's objective.
"Our affordable housing strategy means we don’t leave any land untouched that we can reach," de Blasio said. "We don’t leave any stone unturned. And we don’t leave any asset unutilized that might provide affordable housing or jobs for people and communities that deserve it."
At the event, Glen also announced that the city would soon start looking for developers to launch the second phase, which would bring another 225 apartments.
"Overall, it's really about a comprehensive neighborhood-based approach to development that will include really important necessary retail and community facilities," Glen said, adding that the city would look closely at proposals that include supermarkets, daycares and other resources needed by its residents and neighbors.
City Councilwoman Inez Barron and her predecessor, husband and noted firebrand Charles were also on hand to celebrate and recognize the work done by the previous Council to push the project ahead.
"Yes, we have neglect from City Hall," the former councilman said. "But we fought, and East New York is the number one. There's no other district that has more affordable housing – ask HPD, not me – than East New York."
Both the previous Council and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the Livonia Commons project in 2012, when it awarded the bid to Dunn Development Corporation.
Asked by reporters if there were any differences between the project announced two years ago and the they were celebrating, Glen said there was not.
"No," she admitted. "I mean, the project had been the pipeline for a while and obviously when we got into office, one of the things we do is we look at all the things that were in the pipeline."
Livonia Commons marks de Blasio's second major affordable housing announcement since taking office in January. Last month, his administration took credit for helping negotiate for 700 units at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that the administration would turn its energies on its affordable housing plans after its budget victories in Albany.
"We're going to be focused on – depending on the site – either increasing the number of affordable units, lowering the income level that can be reached in those affordable units," de Blasio said on Monday. "We want a better income mix than in the previous affordable housing approach."
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria