Aerial view of Roosevelt Island. Image: Schizoform via Flickr.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that an agreement had been reached to keep over 360 Roosevelt Island apartments in the Westview housing development, currently in the Mitchell-Lama rental program, affordable for 30 more years. Without the agreement, the Westview’s owner could have removed the building from the middle-class housing program and converted all of the apartments to market rate immediately. Instead, Westview will be able to exit from the Mitchell-Lama program but tenants will be offered first-time ownership opportunities at deeply affordable and below-market prices. Simultaneously, long-term affordability protections will be provided for tenants who continue to rent.
The 361-apartment complex consisting of two 19-story buildings was completed in 1976. The agreement between the owner of the complex, North Town Phase III Houses, Inc., the Westview tenants association and a multi-agency working group has resulted in an affordability plan which will remain in effect through 2048.
While Westview will exit the Mitchell-Lama program, which has provided tax breaks and low-interest mortgages to building owners who offered reasonably-priced rentals and co-ops to middle-income New Yorkers, qualified residents will be able to buy their apartments at about 30 percent of market value based on market price-per-square-foot. For residents who wish to remain as renters, rent increases will be tied to their income and to the increases for rent-stabilized apartments in the New York City metro area set by the Rent Guidelines Board.
Cuomo said, “This agreement is a major step forward in our efforts to continue to provide quality, affordable housing for New York’s middle-class families. By investing in restoration efforts to sustain the Mitchell-Lama program, we are able to preserve apartments such as Westview for New York’s hard-working residents and ensure a better, brighter future for the community for years to come.”
According to the deal, the Westview’s owners must also make a $6 million contribution to the building’s capital reserve fund, with another $3.6 million to be deposited into a fund that goes toward tenant association and building-related expenses.
Opher Pail, a co-chair of the Westview Task Force, said in a statement, “This agreement is great news for Roosevelt Island and a win-win for Westview tenants who will be able to continue living comfortably and affordably in their homes. Without this agreement, tenants would have been faced with devastating rent hikes.”
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Neighborhoods : Roosevelt Island