A New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) program that seeks to monetize the agency’s underutilized land through partnerships with private developers has faced fierce push back that threatens to stall the initiative, according to a new Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) report.
The embattled housing authority has some 80 million square feet of unused development rights, but through infill projects NYCHA seeks to earn some $2 billion over 10 years and put that money back into repairing the city’s public housing as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $24 billion plan, dubbed NYCHA 2.0, to overhaul the system.
That plan was unveiled in December, but since then projects have “stalled” in part because of “resistance from elected officials and concerns from residents, and no new requests for proposals have been issued,” states the CBC report. This has played out at NYCHA’s Holmes Towers development in the Upper East Side where the city’s first 50/50 projects was set to rise.
Developer Fetner Properties was set to lease the land at the complex for 99 years and collect rent from the new units—half were planned at market rate and half at below-market. But locals and elected officials raised concerns about the approvals process for the project and over the mere $25 million Fetner would pay to update the Holmes Towers when the complex has a more than double capital need.
In February, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed a lawsuit against the de Blasio administration over the project, and in June NYCHA unveiled that it is going back to the drawing board on the project. The CBC n notes that other mixed-income infill proposals at Wyckoff Gardens and Cooper Park in Brooklyn and the La Guardia Houses and Harborview Terrace in Manhattan all “appeared stalled.”
“These delays have deprived NYCHA of revenue that could have funded repair work and will make it difficult to achieve the $2 billion goal,” says the CBC report.
NYCHA did not comment on the CBC’s assessment or the general state of the infill projects and instead touted the NYCHA 2.0 plan.
“NYCHA 2.0 is the best and only plan to preserve public housing in New York City for generations to come,” said Michael Giardina, a spokesperson for NYCHA. “NYCHA is fully committed to implementing Mayor de Blasio’s 2.0 plan to bring $24 billion in capital need to developments across our portfolio.”