Who is Totem?

Totem is a real estate development firm that specializes in community-driven projects and innovative design. We build intentional, inclusive developments focused on affordability, economic mobility, innovative partnerships and sustainable design. We’ve partnered with countless communities throughout Brooklyn to deliver affordable housing, most recently working with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to boost the number of affordable housing units built in Bed-Stuy since 2014 by more than 50%.

What is Herkimer-Williams?

Herkimer-Williams is a proposal to rezone a privately-owned 94,000-square-foot site surrounding Broadway Junction into a mixed-use residential, commercial, and retail complex that can better meet the needs and desires of East New Yorkers. Using a phased approach, the proposal would create, in total, a four-building complex that delivers approximately 600 permanently affordable housing units, new public space, and over 1 million sf of commercial, industrial, community, and retail space that will produce countless jobs for East New Yorkers. As we continue to engage with the community, the final vision for Herkimer-Williams will continue to evolve.

What does Phase One look like?

The first phase of Herkimer-Williams will be focused on affordable housing development. Given the severe shortage of affordable housing in the area, Totem’s priority is to help relieve this issue as soon as possible. Phase One calls for the delivery of up to 400 units of affordable housing, alongside a new 5,000-square-foot open space. We have also set aside approximately 15,000 square feet in this building to create community space currently envisioned as an industrial incubator to generate jobs and training opportunities for local residents.

What does Phase Two look like?

The second phase of Herkimer-Williams will also include housing development, as well as bring the first significant footprint for retail space on the site. Phase Two consists of up to 200 units of 100% affordable housing, as well as 70,000 square feet of retail space for a potential grocery store and other neighborhood-scale retail.

What do Phases Three and Four look like?

Herkimer-Williams prioritizes both housing and jobs. Therefore, the final two phases of the project are a combination of commercial space, community facility, and light industrial space. Within these spaces, we envision users that bring resources directly to East Brooklyn residents. The possibilities here include vocational training, health and wellness uses, and recreational facilities. The specific square footage of up to 800,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space, approximately 100,000 square feet of space for community facility, and approximately 240,000 square feet of retail space allows the flexibility for a variety of uses – all of which will help ensure sustainability for the broader Broadway Junction vision.

How affordable will the units be?

More than 50% of Brooklyn Community District 5 residents are rent-burdened. Totem is committed to exploring financing to make 100% of the new housing units Herkimer Williams delivers affordable to renters earning a percentage of the area median income. The addition of approximately 600 permanently affordable housing units will ease the shortage in East New York’s housing supply, help stabilize rent levels over time, bridge the racial wealth gap in New York City, and create generational financial stability.

Who qualifies for the affordable units?

Any New York resident will be eligible to apply as long as their household income falls within the qualifying income ranges, known as Area Median Income (AMI). New York City has established various priority groups, including municipal workers, applicants with disabilities, and residents of the local community board.

The AMI and corresponding rents are not yet determined on Herkimer-Williams; however, the project will respond to neighborhood standards of affordability. The intent is to build housing that is feasible to construct and maintain and responds directly to the needs of East New Yorkers. This income guide shows you how to calculate your income.

Why include housing?

The focus here is mixed-use development that capitalizes on a transit-rich area to maximize the benefits for the neighborhood. Mixing housing and job-generating uses like retail and commercial can facilitate this.The goal is to repurpose privately held land into something that is more beneficial to people working, living, and visiting Broadway Junction.

How will the community be involved in what is envisioned in this development?  

The initial site proposal was compiled based on feedback from previous surveys and vision plans by community groups and City agencies. From sanitation and parking to street connectivity, the proposal integrates all of these components in the first iteration of Herkimer-Williams. Totem is constantly engaging with the community and began meeting with a broad range of local stakeholders several years ago, well before the ULURP process, which has not formally begun. We fully support and encourage active community participation in neighborhood development conversations.

The next formal opportunity for feedback will be at the environmental scoping scheduled for December 19, 2023. The scoping hearing will center on potential environmental impacts for the development and endeavor the team to create solutions to mitigate these impacts, when possible.

Who makes the final decision on whether this project is approved?

There is a formal review for the development – covering both environmental and land use – that culminates in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, more commonly referred to as ULURP. Varying city agencies must review and approve plans, schedules, environmental impacts and mitigations, and land use actions with mandated points of community feedback and integration. You can read more on the formal process here. Ultimately, the New York City Council will deliberate and vote on whether the project moves forward.

How long will construction take?

We anticipate construction to take 10 years, split into four phases of development. All construction will be coordinated with surrounding infrastructure.

How much parking will be available at the project? How many parking spaces will you remove with this development?

The development is currently studying how to best utilize the transit-rich infrastructure of Broadway Junction train and bus lines; however, there will be parking created through the project. Plans call for approximately 250 parking spaces.

What will you do to improve the driving conditions on Atlantic and East New York Avenue?

The environmental review following the scoping hearing will require the project to analyze any potential impacts on transportation modes, such as train, bus, and car. If there are specific intersections or routes you have concerns about please raise them at the hearing or in writing.

How will you create jobs?

We are committed to partnering with companies that will create employment opportunities for local residents. New retail, manufacturing, and commercial development will attract new businesses to East New York – and the workforce training opportunities that come with them. As with all Totem developments, we will engage local hiring efforts and local and minority- and women-owned contracting to keep capital within the community during and after construction.

We hope to hear from and surface companies and entrepreneurs that would like to set up shop in Broadway Junction, and will work hard to identify them as we move through the approval process and beyond.

What’s happening now at Broadway Junction?

Broadway Junction and the neighborhoods surrounding it have experienced significant increases in public and private investment since the 2016 rezoning. Earlier this year the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Metropolitan Transit Authority announced nearly $500 million in public realm and station improvements that will generate $11.6 billion in economic impact and over 2,000 jobs. East New York is commanding the city's attention with several recently completed and upcoming projects that are helping put the neighborhood at the forefront of transformation and economic opportunity.

Are you part of the city’s $500 Million project in Broadway Junction?

In short, no. The public investment that has been committed by the City and MTA (with additional grants from the Federal government) will make much-needed infrastructure improvements in the area around Broadway Junction. In order to learn from and expand upon these improvements utilizing the privately-held land within the Herkimer-Williams project, our team will actively coordinate with the relevant agencies making the public investments to ensure a rational and cohesive plan that helps support a sustainable future for East New York and beyond. You can read more information of the city’s plans here.

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