City withdraws plan for mixed-income tower proposed for Upper East Side playground

June 17, 2019

Previous rendering of the original project; Via NYCHA

The New York City Housing Authority has ditched plans to build a private 47-story apartment building on top of a playground on the Upper East Side, agency officials said Friday. The original plan called for a 300-unit tower to replace the playground at the Holmes Tower public housing complex with half of the units affordable and the other half at market-rate, the latter meant to raise funds for repairs at the tower. The new plan for the site will increase the number of market-rate apartments in order to collect more money, NYCHA officials told THE CITY.

Holmes Towers; Via Google Street View

“In keeping with NYCHA 2.0 vision, we are reevaluating our previous plans at Holmes Towers so that we can continue to engage residents in a meaningful manner while also addressing the $58.9 million needed to improve their quality of life,” agency spokesperson Chester Soria said in a statement to Patch.

Officials first introduced their plan to build a residential tower at the Holmes Towers in 2016 as part of the city’s 2015 NextGen program, an initiative that leased land to developers as a way to generate revenue for renovations. The following year NYCHA selected Fetner Properties to develop the complex at East 93rd Street and released renderings of the site.

The project faced quick backlash from both Holmes Tower residents and public officials, who expressed concerns about razing the playground, the proposed tower’s overall size, and the lack of community input. Since the project’s announcement, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Ben Kallos, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the deal, had said the city and developer did not gain enough feedback from tenants.

“The City proposed exchanging NYCHA land for funds to make repairs, but the amount of money they would receive was never enough to make the transaction worthwhile,” Maloney said in a statement. “Instead of selling off NYCHA property in certain neighborhoods for one-time cash infusions, NYCHA needs to get its fiscal house in order and come up with a realistic plan to make repairs across all its properties.”

NYCHA plans to still partner with Fetner Properties going forward. And Kathryn Garcia, the chair of the agency, told THE CITY the new plan will have about 70 percent market-rate apartments and 30 percent subsidized units.

“We remain committed to working with NYCHA to advance a project at this site to deliver new affordable housing, open space and much-needed funds for public housing infrastructure,” a Fetner spokesman told Patch in a statement.



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