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Deal Will Fast-Track Plans for Affordable Housing at Atlantic Yards

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Almost two years after the Barclays Center opened for business, the affordable housing that was supposed to accompany the project has yet to materialize, but under a deal finalized Friday morning, construction is about to kick into a higher gear. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Barclays Center may be humming along, but elsewhere on the Atlantic Yards site, progress has been slow going. So far, only one apartment building at Flatbush and Dean Street is under construction.

"We were given all these promises, right, when the project was first announced, and we got the arena, but then, there was this long lag," said Marjona Jones of the Brown Community Development Corp.

That lag is about to end. Under a deal agreed to Friday, the timetable to complete some 2,250 units of affordable housing here has been accelerated by 10 years, to the year 2025, and the next two buildings to go up will be 100 percent affordable, broken up into low-, moderate- and middle-income tiers.

One, on the site of a parking lot at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue, will begin construction in December. Another, on a lot directly behind the arena, will begin construction next June. Failure to meet deadlines will bring financial penalties.

"It is absolutely good news for low-, moderate- and middle-income families that are in need of affordable housing," said Michelle de la Luz of the Fifth Avenue Committee.

Michelle de la Luz's group is part of a coalition called Brooklyn Speaks that has agreed to withdraw a planned lawsuit.

Meanwhile, developer Forest City Ratner is moving away from modular construction, a method of stacking totally pre-fabricated units, which proved slower than expected.

"We're going to do the next three, that are all being broken ground on in the next year, two all-affordable buildings, with conventional construction," said Ashley Cotton of Forest City Ratner Companies. "And as soon we can, we'll move forward with more modular buildings."

The deal involved both the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations, which will provide millions in subsidies in exchange for more affordable housing sooner.

"The pace of the affordable housing has just plain been too slow, and we were not going see that pattern continue," de Blasio said.

Also included in the agreement is a new oversight entity called the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, with several of its 14 board members appointed by elected officials, as well a tenant protection fund, seeded with $250,000 from Forest City Ratner, that will help protect local residents from eviction.

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