Neighbors rally to make 5 World Trade Center fully affordable

5 World Trade Center, the site at the south side of the memorial that was once the Deutsche Bank building, is poised to be developed as a residential tower by Brookfield and Silverstein Properties, the latter of which controls most of the buildings on the former WTC site. But while the current proposal has been labeled as “affordable” — dedicating 20 percent of its units — neighbors have been pushing and rallying for a development that would be 100 percent affordable.

There’s a hearing on Thursday if you want to weigh in, hosted on Zoom by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation at 5p. Find that link here. The month-long comment period starts that day.

The effort to bring affordable housing to the WTC site was for a long time the pet project of Tom Goodkind, the CB1 member and neighborhood advocate who died in early 2019. His efforts have been perpetuated by a bigger group now the site is active, called the Coalition for an 100% Affordable 5 WTC, whose goal is to see the building dedicated exclusively and forever to affordable housing.

“If you tell me it’s 20 percent affordable, you are not bringing me affordable housing, you are bringing me luxury housing,” said Mariama James, the longtime CB1 member whose was raised in the neighborhood and whose father recently died of lung disease. “The housing crisis is not a result of rich people not having a place to live. The metric is backwards. 80 percent market rate is not going to work.”

The site is public land, and some of the funding — millions from the LMDC and from HUD — is also public money. One of the LMDC’s original goals was to create affordable housing and it allocated $50 million for affordable housing projects. But that has not been spent on any projects in the neighborhood or on the site.

“There is also a racial component here,” James notes. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 says buildings on public land cannot be segregated. We all know people of color cannot afford to live there at market rates. So we are segregating it intentionally — using public money on public land.”

The state chose the developers for the site in February 2021, after an RFP, designating a partnership between Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties to build a 900-foot mixed-use tower with 1325 units, 330 units of which would be permanently affordable.

To counter that, the coalition commissioned a feasibility study to crunch the numbers for a 100 percent affordable tower, enlisting Jerrod Delaine, a professor at Pratt Institute and NYU and the CEO of Legacy, a real estate development company focused on workforce and affordable housing. The study found two options for full affordability, one at 80 stories and one at 60 stories, and both with a mix of income levels from the Section 8 to 100 percent of AMI.

The 60-story option would provide 810 units of affordable housing at an estimated overall cost of $910 million. The 80-story option would provide 1620 units of affordable housing at an estimated overall cost of $1.4 billion.

By the coalition’s estimate, this would be the tallest affordable housing tower in the country, and perhaps a real legacy for the developers.

“We already have a lot of lovely market rate housing,” James said. “This is their last chance to really change the landscape. And 20 percent is not enough. Not by a long shot.”



  1. We don’t need more affordable housing down here, its frankly ruining what once was a nice neighborhood. There are plenty of options to convert buildings in Midtown and further up Manhattan. Keep the riffraff away from Tribeca/Battery Park

    • ‘Affordable’ housing in our neighborhood would mean families of 4 making between $80,000 – $106,000 annually. These are people who work in our shops and business; teach our kids; and serve and protect us. It might actually bring a little diversity to our community. (Or is that the ‘riffraff’ of which you speak…)

  2. Across the street from the 5 WTC location sits 125 Greenwich the 88 story residential building that remains vacant with no sign of a completion date that I know of. Are additional new tall buildings with promises of affordable housing really the only answer? Perhaps those of us that live here would prefer more sunlight around us and not the shadows cast by these towers.

  3. What about a mix of (i) deeply and moderately affordable housing, (ii) workforce housing (teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, etc) for middle and upper middle class professionals, and (iii) entry-level luxury (to help subsidize the remainder)? Bonus points if there are more family-sized units, in particular for the first two categories.

    History has generally taught us that mixed-income buildings tend to fare better in the long run than those that are entirely low-income, and smaller/moderately “affordable” housing is often gobbled up by internet-savvy young (mostly white) professionals (which doesn’t really solve for historic racial equity issues).

  4. 330 affordable units is not insignificant. Keep in mind that the reason this model works is because the market rate units are financing the construction and maintenance of the affordable housing units. And keep in mind that yes, those other 995 units will be market rate – likely high earning professions who further pay taxes into NYC.

    So why should we go with an all affordable alternative? Where is the $910 or $1.4 billion coming from? At $1.1 million per unit this proposal is a very high cost per unit (assuming no cost overruns). That money could go much further in other neighborhoods in NYC. Is there even funding earmarked for maintaining the building under an all affordable model?

    • Yup.. im sure you could build a fully affordable building cheaper elsewhere… why chose a prime location for it?

    • Are you me? Took the words right out of my mouth.

      I think the equivalency that market rate equals luxury is also misleading. Yes, these apartments will be new with good amenities and at least the north side of the building will have stunning views, but the location is mediocre and the building is simply too large to be a luxury building (even if it’s marketed as such). We’re not talking about Billionaires Row or 56 Leonard here. It’s a big standard new FiDi rental building, and FiDi already has some of the most affordable market rents in core Manhattan.

      The current plan strikes a good balance.

  5. NB the AMI for New York City: $130,400 for a family of four, or $93K for a single person.

  6. “We all know people of color cannot afford to live there at market rates.”
    That’s a racist comment

  7. Affordable housing does not solve the housing crisis. Where will these folks buy their food Whole Foods? Do they understand that this area you are paying prime prices for essentials you can find elsewhere for fraction of the cost. You want an apartment for less than 1K because you barely make any money but yet can’t afford to buy food or essentials in the neighborhood. Makes no sense.

    • But it does make sense to want to live in a community with good schools, parks, transportation. That’s what we all want and that’s worth something. Why would you deny that to other people?

      • Why won’t you pay to rent them market rate apartments? Why would you deny them?

      • what good schools? I work for the DOE and I see where most kids land when it comes to high school. Most of the GnT schools and students that get into the specialized high schools as well as top competitive high schools are from Brooklyn and Queens. We have a shortage of schools in lower Manhattan unless the are private schools.

      • I think the wtc 5 thing is a joke, just use the building as a hotel for travelers to the main site and business people working at the site as well.