Editorial: A pilot program in preservation

The city was quick to slam an independent report that said the affordability preserved in the property’s most recent sale was exaggerated (although this was without disputing the actual figures cited by the Independent Budget Office).

Measuring affordability through years rather than apartments, the IBO has calculated that the majority of apartments would have remained affordable even without a deal that cost the city $220 million.

Just whether or not the city got what it paid for remains to be seen, as is how stable the community will remain over the years with a combination of market rents, true stabilized rents and upper and lower lottery tier rents.

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Watchdog says affordability preserved through Stuy Town deal was exaggerated

de Blasio talking

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials with tenants in October, 2015 announcing the sale of Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In October of 2015, a grinning Mayor Bill de Blasio stood alongside other elected officials to declare that the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to The Blackstone Group and partner Ivanhoe Cambridge was the “mother of all preservations deals.”

However, the Independent Budget Office of the City of New York (IBO) is now suggesting, in a report released Friday, that the amount of affordability preserved was inflated.

The IBO estimated that while the deal was supposed to preserve 100,000 “apartment years” (the equivalent of 5,000 apartments for 20 years), 64,000 of those apartment years would have remained affordable anyway through rent stabilization. This would mean the deal really only saved 36,000 apartment years, not 100,000. The report also noted that when the sale took place, just over 5,000 apartments were already renting at below-market rates due to rent stabilization.

While there has been plenty of debate over just how “affordable” the 5,000 apartments that are preserved and leased through a lottery system actually are, according to the IBO, only three percent of those 100,000 apartment years are reserved for low-income households. Twenty-seven percent are intended for middle income households while the remaining six percent of apartment years are units that will remain rent-stabilized longer than they would have without the deal. For its report, the IBO said it considered all of the newly created lottery apartments as well as ones that remain stabilized to be benefits to the city.

Additionally, the report indicated that the city used some misleading numbers at the time of the property sale.

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Neighbors against sanitation garage call for city study of alternative sites

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition is continuing its fight against the proposed sanitation garage by exploring alternatives in existing facilities in other parts of Manhattan, options that have not yet been discussed at the public hearings or Community Board 6 meetings on the topic.

“This additional option came to our attention and we liked the idea so it was included in our public comments on the draft scope,” said Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, who is also one of the coalition’s co-founders. The comment period for the draft scoping document for the project ended on July 22.

On behalf of the coalition, which represents tenant groups who oppose the sanitation garage planned for East 25th Street and First Avenue, Handal has also asked local elected officials, including Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, as well as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, to request that the Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded city agency that provides nonpartisan information about the city’s budget, do an appraisal of the Brookdale site as well as an evaluation of the existing Pier 36 garage and an old incinerator building located on 215th Street.

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