Here’s what ‘affordable housing’ will mean in Second Ward, Brooklyn Village

A rendering of Brooklyn Village and its park.
A rendering of Brooklyn Village and its park.

When it comes to affordable housing, there can be a lot of confusion about the terminology and what it actually means. The developers planning to remake Second Ward tried to clear that up at a meeting Monday and define exactly what they’re talking about.

There’s subsidized housing, workforce housing, affordable housing, mixed-income housing – the jargon list goes on. BK Partners – the development firm that’s agreed to buy 17 acres in Second Ward from Mecklenburg County and redevelop them into $683 million Brooklyn Village – is including 107 units of below market-rate housing in the development.

That’s 10 percent of the total apartments to be built on the site, and more than the county asked for in its initial request for proposals. But it’s not the whole story. Monte Richey, CEO of Conformity Corp., one of the companies in BK Partners, gave some more details about what exactly that will entail at a public forum.

Here are some of the basics:

▪ The flavor of affordable housing BK Partners plans to build is “workforce housing,” intended to be affordable for people making 80 percent of the area’s median income. “Think nurses, school teachers, police officers,” said Ritchey. The 107 units won’t be subsidized housing meant for people with very low incomes, typically 30 percent or less of the area’s median income.

▪ There’s no public money going to fund the affordable units. This isn’t what you might think of as “public housing,” which Ritchey said is typically financed with direct payments from local governments, loans or low-income housing tax credits. Instead, BK Partners will agree to keep the rents on 107 units affordable for people making 80 percent or less of the area’s median income for a set amount of time, perhaps 30 years. Dennis Lacaria, the county staff member leading the project, said the county will use tools such as deed restrictions to make sure BK Partners doesn’t convert the units to market-rate housing before the time is up.

▪ The workforce housing units won’t all be located in one building. Instead, they’ll be dispersed through the multiple apartment buildings in the project, with 10 percent of each building being income-restricted.

▪ In response to a question from the audience about whether the apartments would be affordable for workers raising families, Ritchey said the size hasn’t been determined – but they might not be large units. “Can I commit that we’re going to deliver two-bedroom or three-bedroom units that price? I can’t,” said Ritchey.

▪ The affordable apartments Brooklyn Village will include would average 741 square feet and rent for $975 a month, under the BK Partners proposal.

▪ While the county and BK Partners are still negotiating the final terms of a deal, Ritchey said the number of affordable units in the plan won’t go down.

“The things (the county) has seen from us in the RFP are, from here forward, a minimum,” said Ritchey.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo