Today’s news:

Coney Commons nears

A community center and residential housing complex is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Community Board 13 approved the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for Coney Island Commons, a project bringing a YMCA and two residential towers to Brooklyn. The development would be located on the north side of Surf Avenue between West 29th and 30th streets.

“We want to get this project under construction in early spring or late summer,” said Jerry Kretchmer of Kretchmer Companies, which is developing the property.

The site would boast two condominium towers – one at nine stories tall and another at 13 stories. All 188 units would be affordable housing.

Although residents applauded the use of affordable instead of luxury housing, they wondered, “Affordable to who?”

There have long been arguments in Coney Island about what merits affordable housing. Some say the units should be priced for families making $40,000 a year. Others say they should be for families earning $60,000.

“There’s two schools of thought on the housing,” explained Marion Cleaver, chair of Community Board 13. “When you put it in perspective, there is affordable housing and there is affordable housing.”

Currently, $76,800 is considered the Annual Median Income (AMI) for a family of four in New York City.

According to Kretchmer Companies, that figure “may be adjusted at a later date to lower AMIs” more representative of most Coney Island residents’ incomes.

The YMCA would occupy a 40,000-square-foot building featuring a pool and exercise room.

“It’s a unique opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind recreation space for Coney Island residents,” said Sean Andrews of YMCA New York. “We’re deeply committed to working with the community to ensure access. We’re looking to issue free kids cards for membership.”

The YMCA plans to offer a variety of community-friendly programs, including water aerobics classes for seniors and basketball leagues for children.

The goal is to make the YMCA a “vibrant place from morning to night,” Andrews said.

At the Community Board 13 meeting, members of Coney Island CLEAR (Community and Labor Empowerment Alliance for Redevelopment) packed the auditorium at Coney Island Hospital to voice their support for Coney Island Commons – and the construction jobs it would create.

“Something beautiful is happening here so the people in my community don’t have to hustle or sell drugs. They’ll have an opportunity to work,” said Neptune Avenue resident Jose Serrano.

Coney Island Commons would open by winter 2010.

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