OK, not exactly, but it’s pretty close. Brownstoner reported last week that The Acacia—a 105-unit, mixed-use building that offers both luxury and affordable rental units—was nearly full. The Acacia’s website lists three two-bedroom, two-bath units that start at $2,366 (the one-bedroom units rented for $1,887) available for lease. Real estate companies BRP and MNS broke ground for the building in 2010, which was originally named The Bradford and championed as an affordable housing unit, and shifted marketing strategies some time in 2012 by renaming their development The Acacia and touting it, instead, as an eco-friendly luxury rental complex.
The Brownstoner report also noted that the building was certified LEED Gold by the USGBC. What I’m going to list for you is going to sound an awful lot like Apple’s environmental footprint page that you may or may not have ever read. As a building, the most impressive feature is the on-site natural gas power plant, which can power the building during a blackout. Each unit has water-conserving fixtures, low-E windows, Energy Star certified appliances, and “100% fresh filtered air in corridors.” Tenants get all of this with a washer and dryer inside the apartment. I don’t know—that seems like the most impressive thing to me about this whole building, right?
The applications for the affordable units were made available around this time last year, and if you take a look at this PDF from NYC.gov, you’ll see the gross disproportion between affordable and New Housing Opportunities Program units. There were only 21 affordable units in the Acacia, and they were envy-inducing deals: $377 for a one-bedroom and $527 for a 3-bedroom (yes, that filtered air in the corridors is included). But it’s important to note that NHOP offers developers below-market mortgages to build moderate-income housing, and while the numbers tell us that median one-person income is around $60,000, most of us know the reality of rental living in Brooklyn. We’re not saving money. “Moderate” is quickly becoming “luxury.”
This is also to say that The Acacia sticks out like a sore thumb at the corner of Fulton & Albany. It seems a little patronizing to build a luxury building in Bed-Stuy with a handful of apartments that the median income area can actually afford which, sure, isn’t necessarily news. But the development’s shift in name and marketing approach tells me that sustainable urban planning is only a luxury, and that progressive lifestyles are commodities. The Acacia, overall, feeds into the illusion that the sustainable lifestyle is viable for everyone, while it’s irritatingly clear that it’s for those who can afford it. I mean, shouldn’t fresh filtered air be a necessity, and not sold to us for the price of two MacBook Airs?
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