Land Rush, E. Brooklyn

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Rather than going through the time-consuming process of auctioning off vacant lots (and fending off spunky community gardeners and Bette Midler in the process) the city housing agency has found an simpler way to dispense with its extra property: give it away.

At a hearing in May, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Richard Roberts told the City Council that 700 new homes will be built under the agency’s New Foundations homeownership program. (An agency rep later said the program now includes 66 lots.)

Developers can charge as much as they like for the new homes, since there aren’t any income restrictions attached to the deal. The city doesn’t kick in any extra subsidies, but it does provide a 20-year tax break.

And, as a real boon to developers, the city doesn’t even plan to charge for the land. “We may convey it for a nominal consideration,” was what Roberts said, after councilmembers questioned him on this new project. The majority of the properties are in East New York, although there are also some in Queens and the Bronx.