Mayor de Blasio is on the defensive about a lucrative real estate deal that shuttered a health care center on the Lower East Side, paving the way for it to become luxury condos. On Friday, the city announced changes designed to prevent something like this from happening again. City Comptroller Scott Stringer first raised alarms about the city's role in the transaction. Our Grace Rauh has the story.
This building at 45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side may soon be filled with well-heeled New Yorkers. They will be paying a premium for the luxury condominiums slated to be built here.
Not long ago, this was a facility for HIV and AIDS patients. A city deed required the property be used as a not-for-profit health center. But in a strange and unusual move, the city quietly ripped up the deed last year at the request of the building's new owner, the Allure Group. With the restrictions gone, Allure promptly sold the property, netting $72 million in profit. The buyer plans to fill it with high-end apartments.
"When you take away that health care facility and replace it with luxury condominiums and do it without any community input without any review process that is something that is alarming and troubling," said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
In a telephone interview with NY1, Mayor de Blasio said he is outraged by the transaction. The city on Friday announced a new process for removing deed restrictions on properties.
"This just should not have happened is the bottom line and there will be consequences," de Blasio said. "We are looking at all potential legal options related to the company that did this because we have a lot of evidence that they misled us."
The Allure Group did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The timing of this is terrible for the mayor. He's been trying to build support for his affordable housing agenda. Yet at the same time his administration set the stage for this Lower East Side building just behind me to become luxury condos.
A longtime resident says the cost of housing is already high in the neighborhood.
"There used to be a lot of Spanish people down here but now they move out," said Leonardo Morales a Lower East Side resident. "I think they left for North Carolina, Miami to try to get a better deal because, you know, it's tough living here."
New high-end apartments may push rents even higher.