NYCHA Proposal to Let Developers Build Private Apartments on Public Land Meets Resistance
New York City’s plan to let private developers build on public housing land is drawing increasing resistance from politicians, residents, and housing advocates, who say the idea should be abandoned. In the beginning of the year, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) commenced a multi-year effort to engage residents, elected officials, and other community leaders in the development process of its land lease initiative. Based on discussions, NYCHA plans to further develop and then issue a formal Request for Proposal in July for 14 sites located within eight developments in Manhattan south of 110th Street.
Developers will then submit plans to take out 99-year leases on eight parcels of land owned by NYCHA and build at least 4,300 new private apartments. Under the lease plan, 20 percent of the new apartments would be set aside for low-income residents—which advocates say is too few—and the rest of the apartments would be market rate. The income generated through land leases would be dedicated to building improvements at the eight developments and other public housing properties citywide.
Mayor Bloomberg has called NYCHA’s proposal to raise money by leasing land in eight Manhattan developments for 3 million square feet of market-rate apartments “a creative idea.” The housing authority projects the move could bring $30 million to $50 million in annual revenue, which would be used to address the agency’s $60 million annual budget shortfall and pay for improvements to housing authority properties citywide. The developers would need to include some 800 affordable apartments in the new complexes.
Residents from seven of the eight public housing developments to be affected have retained legal counsel from the Urban Justice Center and the Legal Aid Society, though no lawsuits have yet been filed. NYCHA remains committed to the initiative, saying it needed approval only from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to move forward.