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Long-delayed development at NYCHA site pulled after 14 years

Residents and local officials invested in the future of Harborview say they had no idea NYCHA had called the development off

Harborview Terrace, in Hell’s Kitchen, April 15, 2019.
Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The New York City Housing Authority has shelved an embattled 14-year-old proposal for an affordable housing development next to a Hell’s Kitchen public housing complex, THE CITY has learned.

Plans to develop affordable apartments on the site of the Harborview Terrace parking lot first took shape in 2005 as a concession to the community in the Hudson Yards deal. That evolved last year into a proposal to build a much taller tower with hundreds of luxury apartments in the mix, to raise funds for repairs at the financially strapped authority.

Now, NYCHA says the lot adjoining the 16-story complex between West 54th and West 56th streets on Manhattan’s far West Side is no longer in the housing authority’s pipeline of future “NextGeneration NYCHA” developments.

NYCHA would offer no details on why the Harborview Terrace project had been pulled, saying only that it is no longer on the authority’s list of pending developments. A spokesperson said that the authority is “still evaluating.”

The reshuffling of its development plans comes as NYCHA awaits appointment of a new chairperson, who must be approved by federal officials under a recent settlement between Mayor Bill de Blasio and federal prosecutors over hazardous conditions in authority buildings. And it follows the mayor’s December announcement of “NYCHA 2.0,” a plan to generate $24 billion for repairs over 10 years, including $2 billion from real estate development.

Residents and local officials invested in the future of Harborview say they had no idea NYCHA had called the development off.

Maria Guzman, a 40-year resident of Harborview and the leader of its tenant association, said she hadn’t heard anything from the city or NYCHA about the project since November when officials met with tenants to float an idea to build hundreds of market-rate apartments on top of approximately 250 units of subsidized housing the city had previously called for in a 2017 request for developer proposals.

“They said ‘We’ll come back to you when we look at all your comments.’ And they never came back,” she said.

Said mayoral spokesperson Olivia Lapeyrolerie: “Post our NYCHA 2.0 rollout, we are evaluating this project and will provide an updated proposal to the residents association when final.”

Waiting on $85 Million

Guzman and her neighbors have been waiting for a deal to materialize at the housing complex since 2005, when the city said it would build 155 units of new affordable housing on the site as a part of an agreement related to the Hudson Yards rezoning.

The development plan went through several iterations and a legal battle over the years, and now Guzman wanted to see it done, particularly if it meant getting “repairs that we wouldn’t get otherwise,” she said.

In its most recent assessment, NYCHA estimated Harborview is due for more than $35 million worth of repairs and maintenance immediately and a total of $85 million over the next 20 years, including $33.6 million in repairs to apartments, $5.3 million in electrical fixes and $1.4 million for its drainage and sewage system.

“Our needs are huge,” Guzman said.

NYCHA as a whole will need $32 billion for upgrades over the next five years, according to the same assessment.

Officials from Manhattan’s Community Board 4 and the offices of Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — all of whom have been following the Harborview Terrace project for years — had also not heard of the change in plans at the complex.

Both Brewer and Rosenthal had objected to the concept NYCHA floated last summer for a luxury-and-affordable-housing tower as high as 50 stories at the site, with Brewer citing the 2005 non-binding Hudson Yards agreement. “The new building will be no taller than the existing Harborview towers,” it read.

Market-rate housing would have put Harborview among several pending projects that aim to raise revenue for struggling NYCHA complexes by way of developments on NYCHA land that mix subsidized and market-rate apartments.

The four remaining money-making “NYCHA 2.0” projects — at Holmes Towers in Yorkville, LaGuardia Houses on the Lower East Side and Wyckoff Gardens and Cooper Park in Brooklyn — are all pending, the housing authority said.

This story was originally published by THE CITY, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.