NY State Reaches Deal With Port Authority to Build Affordable Housing at 5 WTC

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New York reached a deal to start construction on a residential building at 5 World Trade Center with more affordable housing than previously proposed, but far less than advocates pushed for.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) approved the framework for the 1,200-unit multifamily building earlier in the day, with up to one-third of the units priced for “low- and moderate-income residents,” and with some set aside for victims of 9/11 and their families, Hochul said. Construction is expected to start in 2024.

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“This is going to be a symbol of what we can do,” Hochul said on the 79th floor of 3 World Trade Center, where the announcement took place. “[It’s] going to bring new life here.”

Silverstein Properties, Brookfield (BN) Properties, Omni New York and Dabar Development Partners were selected as the developers of the project in February 2021, which at the time was slated to be about 900 feet tall, with 1,325 rental units spread across 1.2 million square feet.

In the original proposal, about 25 percent of the units were expected to be set aside for affordable housing.

Housing advocates have been pushing for several years for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), which has been spearheading the development, to make the building 100 percent affordable with units set aside for 9/11 victims and their families.

PANYNJ said in December 2021 that the amount of affordable housing was simply not financially viable as it would need $12.5 million per year added to its projected revenue stream from the project through rent from tenants, something not possible unless a significant portion of the building is leased at market rates.

However, in May, the state was able to get the amount of affordable housing slightly increased, and Hochul boasted on Thursday about the amount of affordable housing in the project.

“It was clear that the PCAB wasn’t going to support a proposal that came before it at one of its last meetings,” Hochul said. “And I say that 1,200 units, one-third of them affordable, is better than no outcome at all.”

It appears the agency will be getting that funding, subsidized with $40 million from the Hochul administration, $20 million from the New York State Legislature and $5 million from the Battery Park City Authority, the governor said.

PANYNJ’s board still must approve the plan.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.