Second Group of Private Developers Take Over Additional NYCHA Developments in East New York

by Judith Brown for EastNewYork.com

We recently published the press release from the first group of developers that took over NYCHA developments in East New York. Below is the press release from the second group of developers who are taking over additional NYCHA developments in East New York. You would have to believe that this is just the beginning, with more private developers coming in to take control of more NYCHA developments. Improvements on NYCHA developments are absolutely needed, but NYCHA is the most valuable real estate asset that New York City has when it comes to long term affordability. Giving away the only true affordable housing portfolio to private developers cannot be good for affordability in New York City. You have to ask yourself a question; have you ever met a private developer who cares about anything other than turning the largest profit they can make? Private developers throughout history have not been good partners for communities of color, therefore it would be safe to assume that this move will not change their historical disdain for communities of color.

Press Release from: the Stanley Avenue Preservation (SAP), a joint venture of Dantes Partners, Douglaston Development, L+M Development Partners, and SMJ Development in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), today announced the closing on $430 million in financing for comprehensive renovations to a 1,922-unit public housing portfolio comprising NYCHA’s Linden and Penn-Wortman houses in East New York, Brooklyn. The partnership is undertaking the project through NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) initiative, which utilizes the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to unlock funding for repairs while ensuring developments remain permanently affordable and that residents retain the same rights that they possess in the standard public housing program. Through PACT, the SAP team will begin work next month on repairs following decades of disinvestment at the properties. The NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Wells Fargo and Citi provided construction financing, and HDC provided permanent loan financing through the FHA risk share program.

“The PACT program continues to be one of the Authority’s best tools for comprehensively improving NYCHA campuses with significant infrastructure repair needs,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “The collection of experienced partners that have been assembled to provide large-scale rehabilitation work, robust property management, and much-needed social services for these sites will enable NYCHA to maintain our commitment to creating stronger developments for thousands of additional public housing families.”

“The public-private partnerships represented in this latest round of PACT projects enable the Authority to raise the funds needed to make capital repairs and drive additional community resources to residents, all while maintaining public control of NYCHA buildings with the support of our tenant leadership,” said NYCHA EVP of Real Estate Development Jonathan Gouveia. “Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in our pledge to deliver desperately needed and long overdue repairs for 62,000 apartments in NYCHA’s portfolio.”

“At Dantes Partners our goal is to facilitate and enhance local urban economic development by designing and structuring innovative funding and financing solutions for affordable, workforce, and mixed-income housing and community-based real estate,” said Buwa Binitie, Managing Principal of Dantes Partners. “Through this public-private partnership we can apply those same principals to make a significant impact in the enhancement of NYCHA communities.  This has been a collaborative effort with the residents, and we look forward to fostering a safe, thriving, and beautiful place for them to continue to live.”

“As a former resident of the Linden Houses during a portion of my childhood, I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to enhance the property for current residents, and to continue our firm’s commitment to high-quality affordable housing in New York,” said Jeffrey E. Levine, Founder & Chairman of Douglaston Development. “Douglaston Development is excited to partner with L+M, Dantes, and SMJ on the rehabilitation of the Linden and Penn-Wortman Houses.”

“Our core mission at L+M Development Partners is to work together to build stronger communities and with this project we’re excited to redevelop public housing for East New York residents,” said Ayanna Oliver-Taylor, Managing Director of Development at L+M Development Partners. “As we continue to rehabilitate and manage NYCHA properties through the PACT initiative, we have truly seen how these projects have improved the lives of residents. Today’s closing marks a significant milestone of this collaborative effort to revitalize the East New York community.”

“SMJ is excited to play a part in the rehabilitation of Linden and Penn Wortman Houses along with L&M Development Partners, Douglaston Development, Dantes Partners, and NYCHA,” said  Juan Barahona, Principal, SMJ Development. “Our commitment to the preservation of affordable housing is unflappable regardless of how difficult the work may be.  We treat our residents’ homes with the same care and respect as our own and we look forward to collaborating with residents to enhance their experience.”

“HDC is proud to provide critical bond financing to help ensure comprehensive repairs, guaranteed affordability, and tenant protections for the residents of Linden and Penn-Wortman,” said HDC President Eric Enderlin.  “Thanks to all our partners for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life of NYCHA residents through the PACT program.”

“Citi is proud to work with Wells Fargo and the New York City Housing Development Corporation in providing the financing necessary to transform and preserve Penn-Wortman Houses,” said Barry Krinsky, National Production Manager, Citi Community Capital. “This marks the continuation of our work with NYCHA dating back to 2010.”

Built in the 1950s (Linden) and 1970s (Penn-Wortman), the properties are in dire need of repairs to the interiors, exteriors and mechanical systems. Starting in January, SAP, led by Levine Builders and L+M Builders, will begin work on an array of repairs, with Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP serving as the project’s architect.

Improvements will include: 

  • Apartment interior upgrades, including new bathrooms, kitchens with new stainless steel energy star appliances, LED lighting, painting and flooring

  • In-unit Wi-Fi access for all residents

  • Enhanced community amenities including enlarged lobbies with parcel lockers, recycling rooms, modernized laundry facilities, a resident community center, Social Services offices and Tenant Association offices

  • Additional priorities identified by residents, including improved waste management, pest management, security, and interior and site lighting

  • Exterior site work, streamlined and amenity rich landscaping that will include new fencing, seating, walking paths, renovated playgrounds, and recreational facility upgrades

  • Façade and building envelope upgrades, including window replacement and new highly insulated roofs at both developments, façade over-cladding with Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS) across all buildings at Linden Houses

  • Security upgrades, including replacement of opaque walls with window-walls at corridors and lobbies, key-fob access control and improved lighting

  • Building system upgrades to prevent system failures, such as new electrical apartment panels, new water piping, and elevator modernization

  • Heating and hot water plant upgrade/repairs at Linden, and installation of electrical hot water heaters at Penn Wortman

Rendering: Penn-Wortman Community Center Entrance

Rendering: 1940 Linden Houses Side View

SAP will serve as the new on-site property manager, which will be led by C+C Apartment Management.

Resident engagement is at the core of SAP’s approach. Over the past year, the SAP team has held virtual town hall meetings, provided on-site information for tenants to explain the transition process forPACT projects, and engaged residents around general feedback, questions, and concerns. Residents are signing new leases that were reviewed by the Legal Aid Society and cannot be changed without NYCHA’s approval, with rents capped at 30 percent of household income including utilities, in accordance with federal law.

At the same time, SAP will introduce a host of on-site social services led by venerable social service provider University Settlement, in addition to existing services from CAMBA and Millennium Club both located at the Penn-Wortman community center. University Settlement operates multiple community centers throughout the city and will offer residents services that include early childhood, youth, mental health, adult literacy, senior services, financial services, and family services programming.

L+M, along with its partners, completed renovations through PACT at Baychester and Murphy Houses in the Bronx earlier this year, where residents remained in their homes and now enjoy renovations similar to those planned for Linden and Penn-Wortman. The renovations were similarly undertaken by L+M Builders, and the properties are also managed by C+C.

Recently, longtime Baychester Houses Resident Association President Sandra Gross told The New York Times that when she first heard that her complex had been selected for the PACT program, she was worried NYCHA would “privatize” it. She and her residents feared rising rents and displacement. But now that renovations were complete, with all residents in their refurbished homes on a sparkling new campus, their rent structure intact and not a single tenant evicted, she told The Times that what happened at Baychester was “a miracle and a blessing.”

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