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The Chinese government is building affordable housing in Brooklyn

Getty/Spencer Platt
China’s latest overseas investment project.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Executives from one of China’s largest state-owned property developers broke ground this week on a mixed-income housing project in a somewhat unlikely locale: the hipster haven of brownstone Brooklyn. “We are committed to doing everything we can to keep this neighborhood diverse, affordable and accessible for all New Yorkers,” said I-Fei Chang, head of Greenland Holdings Group’s US expansion. Chang has said in the past that a range of incomes of residents is “what makes a city successful.”

Greenland’s affordable housing venture in Brooklyn, 298 apartments in an 18-story building in Prospect Heights, is part of a larger 15-tower apartment project in Atlantic Yards, (now rebranded “Pacific Park) adjacent to the Barclays Center, which will cost an estimated $4.9 billion to build. Half of the 298 units are supposed to be for families that make as low as 40% of the median income for the area—that’s about $33,560 for a family of four. Here’s where the development sits within the neighborhood:

pacificparkbrooklyn.com

And how it’s supposed to look:

pacificparkbrooklyn.com
An artistic rendering of Greenland’s affording housing complex in Atlantic Yards.

Not surprisingly, the deal is likely less about neighborhood altruism and more about Chinese property developers’ drive to expand overseas. Greenland has invested about $20 billion in 13 cities outside of China since last year, and is just one of many mainland developers taking advantage of China’s loosening restrictions on overseas direct investments to get into US real estate. The Atlantic Yards project marks the largest overseas investment by a Chinese property developer to date.

It’s too bad that Chang’s comments about diverse and accessible housing don’t seem to apply to Greenland’s home base in China. Shanghai, where the company is based, and other Chinese cities have some of the least affordable housing in the world, pushing families and single workers into slum-like villages, overcrowded group apartments, and even underground homes. In China, Greenland is best known for building a 636-meter (2,087 feet) skyscraper for luxury apartments and office space in Wuhan. It will be China’s tallest skyscraper.

New York City is just one locale on Greenland’s list. The company is also building a $1 billion complex for hotels, apartments and luxury condos in downtown Los Angeles, and its chairman Zhang Yuliang said this week that it is looking to expand in its existing markets (paywall).

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