Monday, April 9, 2007

Starrett City Still Under Siege

Past rejections haven't stopped Clipper Equities and David Bistricer from putting a new proposal on the table to buy Starrett City and turn it into luxury condos.

First, a quick recap: The Clipper Equities development group led by David Bistricer proposed buying Starrett City, home to 14,000 people, for $1.3 billion. Analysts agree that a price tag that high means Bistricer intends to convert Starrett City to luxury condos. The proposed sale quickly became a proxy fight over affordable housing, and was derailed by an outpouring of community outrage.

Bistricer's latest proposal shamelessly calls for tens of millions of dollars in new public subsidies to Clipper Equities. In return, they'll convert Starrett City to luxury condos slowly instead of doing it right away.

Governor Spitzer and Senator Schumer both came out against Bistricer's new proposal to purchase Starrett City. From the New York Times:
Mr. Bistricer's latest plan to buy Starrett City for $1.3 billion has already received a chilly reception from Governor Spitzer, who spoke out in support of the tenants early on. In a letter last night to the Bistricer group, Mr. Spitzer's housing commissioner, Deborah Van Amerongen, said the plan "failed to adequately ensure that Starrett City would be preserved as viable affordable housing in the future, and would be unworkable under existing statutory law."
. . .
Senator Charles E. Schumer also sent Mr. Bistricer a letter this week saying he had "serious concerns" that the proposal "shifts a significant burden to the federal government, while not doing enough to protect the middle-class character of the development."
. . .
"I will do anything I can to keep it middle class," Mr. Schumer said of Starrett City. "But I'm not going to fight for more subsidies so the seller can make a bigger profit."

This is a major victory, but it's still a temporary one. The proposed sale of Starrett City and the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village needs to light a fire under city and state officials to protect our existing affordable housing.

Starrett City won't be out of the woods until the New York State Legislature and Governor Spitzer pass legislation to keep Starrett City rent stabilized and repeal vacancy decontrol. That will be a lasting victory for Starrett City and affordable housing throughout New York. Until then, Starrett City residents have to live with the threat of eviction hanging over their heads.

Sign the petition.

(crossposted at Working Families Blog)

No comments: