The Case for Amenities in Workforce Housing

Today’s Wall Street Journal (4/15/15) has an interesting article about “luxury workforce housing” being built in Mount Vernon, NY:

…when completed early next year, 203 Gramatan Avenue, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., will include a host of amenities often found in luxury buildings, even though it will house families and individuals who qualify for affordable housing, which in this case is defined as households with incomes no more than 60% of the area’s median income.

Apartments in the $60 million, 159-unit development will have large floor plans, wraparound picture windows, oak floors, stone kitchen countertops and washers and dryers—features often missing from affordable housing. Shared amenities will include a gym, cinema room, children’s playroom and rooftop terrace…

There is a business reason for adding luxury amenities to workforce housing, Mr. Fine said. He said his firm owns an affordable apartment building in upper Westchester that has never had a vacancy in the 2 ½ years that it has been open because demand runs so high.

Still, the city had to provide incentives to Atlantic and Kenwood to consider the “luxury affordable” model. The inducements included a $3 million subsidized loan to pay for upgraded streetscapes and public improvements. The development also was awarded funds from state and federal low-income tax credits.