Two years ago, a pair of derelict lots in Bushwick were poised to become high rise apartments containing 200 units of affordable housing—a notable victory for an area where rents are shooting up faster than the weeds that once dominated the trash-strewn streetscape.

But now, the lots' owner—Read Properties—has reneged on its promise, unloading the land instead to other developers seemingly less willing to follow through on the original agreement.

Read sought city approval for the new high rises in 2010, promising community groups that affordable housing would play an outsized role in the development. After much back and forth, a deal was forged: Read agreed to offer 20 percent of its rental units at well below market rate, as well as donate $250,000 to fund displaced residents, $350,000 for improvements to local parks and $360,000 for new computer labs at local schools, among other things.

But after the zoning was secured, Read sold off its property: One parcel was sold to Rabsky Group last fall, and now City Limits reports that the rest was sold to Brooklyn developer Joel Goldman. Rabsky has said it will incorporate "some" affordable housing, but has declined to specify how much, nor has it committed to anything in writing. Goldman, though, has not deigned to discuss affordable housing at all—by all accounts, not a good sign.

The developers may decide it behooves them to incorporate affordable units into their plans in order to qualify for a 25-year tax break. Unfortunately, the subsidies would come under the new 421-a program, which has its flaws.

"The thing that's not being reported that's really annoying about the new 421-a law is in neighborhoods like Bushwick especially, it's going to be more profitable for developers to do the 30 percent at 130 percent AMI option," Moses Gates, the planning director for the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, told City Limits. In other words, the subsidy incentivizes developers to create more units of "affordable" housing at less affordable prices.

Renderings for Rabsky's proposed six-story, 370-unit building, has been called a "playground for hipsters." It includes 25,500 square feet of green space on a zigzagging roof, which will also contain a running and hiking course, plots for farming, and bocce courts. The building will also have a library, climbing wall, and co-working spaces lining the central courtyard. Zoning documents approved by the DOB this June do not include plans for any affordable housing.

The debacle is ultimately a lesson in accountability—or more accurately, the lack thereof. "A developer's word isn't worth so much," Bruno Daniel of the neighborhood advocacy group Rheingold Construction Committee (RCC) told Gothamist last month. "Read told us they weren't going to sell the land, and they did."

According to a spokesman from Councilmember Antonio Reynoso's office, the median household income in Bushwick is $36,500, and 30% of residents live below the poverty line.