78 Units of Affordable Senior Housing Will Replace Former ‘Illegal Hotel’ on West 79th Street

By Carol Tannenhauser

The former Park 79 Hotel, at 117 West 79th Street, will become a senior residence, providing permanent, affordable housing for low-income adults — in this case, for people 62 and older.

As WSR reported in January 2016, the hotel had been operating for at least a decade without the correct certificate of occupancy, based on city records and court filings. In November 2015, the city issued 13 transient use violations against the then owner for serving tourists instead of renting to permanent tenants as required under the building’s Class A SRO Certificate of Occupancy. The violations were upheld in administrative court. The owner subsequently paid $51,600 in related fines.

In July 2018, the building was sold for $22.5 million to Fairstead, described in a recent company release as “a socially responsible real estate investor, developer, owner and operator, specializing in affordable, mixed-income, and market-rate housing.”

Fairstead’s plans for the building were revealed at a meeting of the West 79th Street Block Association on Wednesday, attended by renters and apartment owners from the 100 and 200 blocks of West 79th Street, and representatives of both Fairstead and Project FIND, the nonprofit that will provide services and programming for the residents. The organization already runs two senior residences on the UWS.

David Gillcrist, Executive Director of Project FIND, described the Park 79 project in a statement sent to the block association:

This will be permanent housing for independent seniors, with two full-time activity/resident coordinators and a full-time, on-site superintendent. The majority of the units will be reserved for what’s called a “community preference,” which means that the seniors eligible to move in must already live in the area.

The sponsor plans to do a significant amount of work, including the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms in each unit, common area upgrades, and building beautification initiatives. The number of units will be reduced from the current 108 to 78. The building will provide high-quality senior housing, with a requirement that all residents be 62 or over and that the apartments remain affordable.

This will not be a homeless shelter of any kind, every resident will have the wherewithal to age in-place independently.

“The presentation…gave everyone an opportunity to ask tough questions and get direct answers about who would be living there, how they would be chosen, the application process, who pays the rent, programming, and how the developers were going to renovate the property,” said Dale M. Brown, acting interim president of the West 79th Street Block Association. “By the end of the meeting people felt much more positive and would welcome a facility that would house seniors 62 and older.”

Construction would most likely not start until 2021 and will take 18 months to complete, according to a block association release.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      “Fairstead Capital, described in a recent company release as “a socially responsible real estate investor, developer, owner and operator, specializing in affordable, mixed-income, and market-rate housing.”

      This is nonsense. Fairfield is not providing these “affordable” apartments for seniors at this 79th Street location out of altruism or because they’re concerned about housing elderly people in the neighborhood or because the owners of Fairfield are generous people.

      Fairfield is a for profit enterprise and they develop these “affordable” apartments because they make a lot of money due to tax incentives and other tax credits the city doles out for these “affordable” units.

      In other words, taxpayers are subsidizing these apartments (thru loss of tax revenue) and making very wealthy developers even wealthier while housing a relatively tiny number of people.

      This is a very expensive and inefficient way of creating truly affordable housing. It underscores just how dysfunctional and unfair liberal policies have made the city’s housing situation and it’s unfortunate wealthy and connected people can exploit it.

      • Sherman's Conscience says:

        Ain’t this capitalism, Shermy?

        But yeah I hate the euphemistic ‘affordable housing’, when it’s really taxpayer subsidized housing. It makes it sound sneaky or shameful, when in fact there is no shame in having the public programs provide housing.

        Now, if only we could get the wealthiest taxpayers like Sherman’s clients (assuming they pay taxes), and perhaps Sherman himself (since he’s a CPA as he often reminds us), to pay a more equitable share of the affordable housing bill.

        Give til it feels good, Sherm. ‘Tis the season.

    2. Uh-oh ! says:

      So…”The sponsor plans to do a significant amount of work, including the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms….”

      Hopefully that work will include either a ramp with a railing and/or a railing on those ridiculously steep (and slippery when wet) front steps, which would be a challenge for anyone 62+ and are definitely NOT A.D.A.-compliant.

    3. your_neighbor says:

      For all of those people complaining that this is being converted by a for-profit company, who do you expect to spend the millions to convert it – maybe NYCHA?

      I think it is great that this company is going to build out a nice place for seniors and keep it in the affordable rent category thus voluntarily limiting their profits while serving a community need.

      We can debate forever what affordable actually may be versus NYC’s definition of affordable but this is a good start and is going to be a great place to live for seniors who would like to downsize and cannot afford a place like the Esplanade on WEA or similar places in the neighborhood.

      This and the micro apartment building that will be built on 96th off of Bway will fill a real need.

    4. Barbara philip says:

      Very I retested to live there. I am in that area foryears.

    5. Beverly says:

      This is wonderful news!! When and where can I apply for an apartment?

    6. Vicky says:

      Is this Section 8? How to apply?

    7. Al says:

      I just called Fairstead to see when they will be accepting applications for apartment rentals. The woman who answered said they have not established a date yet. She did not even suggest a date that I call back for this information. I find this puzzling. Will anyone not “connected” actually be able to apply?

    8. Dale Brown says:

      This will NOT be a homeless shelter. We have had experience with this location as a SRO homeless shelter – drunks, drugs,fights, shootings, fires, garbage, people hanging out on the sidewalk smoking.
      Renovations also include 2 new elevators, side outside handicap ramp, hand rails, a common room, a backyard garden. etc.
      This will be for independent senior citizens who live on the west side and who are 62 years old and older and who meet the strict rules and regulations to apply for this housing.
      What a wonderful use of this beautiful building.

    9. Kathleen says:

      WSR Please keep us informed of when we can apply for one of these apartments! Thank you!