In yet another example economic silliness, much is being made about the dispute between Mayor "Dapper Doug" Palmer and Broad Street Bank developer Richard Libbey over the amount of rental units available to lower income renters.
The Mayor wants to hold the line at 20% of the units being less than market rate.
The Developer says the market won't support that ratio and wants 40% of the units made available at the lower rental rate.
The Mayor argues that a larger percentage of people who can afford the higher rents will benefit downtown Trenton with their disposable income spent in local restaurants and businesses.
Mr. Libbey counters that the businesses currently downtown will not attract the disposable dollars of the higher income tenants.
What is not being addressed in this standoff is the question of the income cap for renting apartments in the Broad Street Bank building.
That's right...if you were so inclined to rent and move into one of the apartments with those spectacular views of Mill Hill Park, Downtown Trenton and beyond, you had better not make too much money. The funding provided by the State of New Jersey (specifically the NJ Housing Mortgage and Finance Authority) comes with a restriction that applies even to the "unrestricted" apartments.
Tenants cannot earn more than seven times their rent. That is to say, for a top of the line $1500.00 per month apartment in the Broad Street Bank building, must earn less than $126,000 per year.
So, if we want residents to move into the city who can not only afford to live here but have money to spend supporting local businesses, services and restaurants what is the sense in arguing about how many or how few units are "affordable" on the low end of the rent scale in the Broad Street Bank?
As it stands right now we could have a line of millionaires that stretches from Hopewell to Princeton Junction who all want to live in the Broad Street Bank building (I can dream can't I?) but the rules of the NJHMFA would prohibit them from leasing an apartment there.
Now that makes real sense, doesn't it?!?!?