The Frederick Douglass houses, via Wikimedia Commons.
The city has been working on a plan to lease land to private developers so they can build market-rate apartments on public space within housing projects. The plan, revealed last week by the Daily News, includes a possible luxury development in the Frederick Douglass Houses between Amsterdam and Manhattan Avenues from 100th to 104th Street. The developments would be built on top of playgrounds, community centers and parking lots, tenant leaders and others told the News. At the Douglass Houses, the plan is to build on top of a current parking lot.
The city wants to build the developments to help raise money for the New York City Housing Authority, which is underfunded and has often been slow to make repairs or improve public housing.
In total, 4,330 apartments would be built in 8 developments. The developers would get 99-year leases and payments to NYCHA would be frozen for the first 35 years. Requests for proposals could go out as soon as next month.
But the plan strikes some as a little insulting: “Now they have this influx of yuppies who can afford these big rents,” said Douglass Houses tenant Madelyn Innocent, 56. “The people who already live in public housing are going to be resentful that you built this housing and left them in shambles.”
In some developments, the News says, the luxury apartments would face away from the public housing units — presumably, the rich people would not want to have to look at the decaying buildings around them.
It does sound a little insane. And yet, the same dynamic is arguably already on display all over the Upper West Side, as luxury developments are built just steps away from housing projects and within formerly middle class neighborhoods.
There is no sure thing that this will happen. The next mayor would likely have to approve the idea, and fierce opposition is already popping up in various neighborhoods, including the Lower East Side.
Will Upper West Siders embrace or reject the idea? Let us know how you feel in the poll below, and in the comments.
Correction: Because of a typo, we initially misstated the length of the lease as 990 years.