Thursday, July 12, 2007

Schumer on Starrett City: profit shouldn't depend on government support

In an article headlined online Starrett City’s Tenants Fear That Another Buyer Will Appear but in print "Starrett City’s Tenants Fear Paradise Will Still Be Lost," the New York Times reported that, while a potential sale of the Starrett City complex in Brooklyn to one investor seems stymied by federal housing authorities, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is pressuring the seller, a group headed by Disque Deane, to ask for less money than $1.3 billion so the new owner of the 46-building complex won't significantly raise rents and change the character of the development.

Starrett City, according to the Times, has 5881 apartments over 140 acres in the East New York section of Brooklyn. (Atlantic Yards, by comparison, would include 6430 apartments over 22 acres.)

Part of the negotiations involve increased subsidies that would help keep the complex within the state's Mitchell-Lama program, though the owners have already fulfilled their obligations. The Times reported:
Yesterday, Senator Charles E. Schumer sent a letter to Mr. Deane asking him to lower his sights from $1.3 billion. He said he did not object to the owners making a profit. But, Mr. Schumer wrote, “it cannot be done at the expense of middle class New Yorkers,” nor should the seller’s profit from the sale be reaped from a new infusion of government money.”
[missing quotation mark in the original]

In his comments yesterday, Mr. Deane said: “The receipt of those subsidies by the tenants or the project did not transform Starrett City from a privately owned asset to a public work.”

Without opining on the fate of Starrett City, I think it's worth noting that Schumer has not extended his concern about the appropriate balance between private profit and public subsidy to the Atlantic Yards project that he supports.

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