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.