Weekend Report: NYCHA Halts City Redevelopment. For Now.

The city's land-lease program that would have private developers re-work city property for more housing is on hold.  The Bloomberg administration has decided not to proceed with redevelopment proposals, and is leaving the decision for re-working the city's public housing lands with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

The program raised concerns of a windfall for market developers on land needed for affordable housing when it was announced in August.

The New York City Housing Authority RFP terms asked for designs as well as construction and operation plans for mixed-income rental housing. NYCHA proposed developing eight current city housing sites.

A spokeswoman tells the New York Times today reiterates de Blasio's opposition to the current plan, HERE.

The RFPs, due last month, are in, and NYCHA says they are continuing to be reviewed. The good news in the agency's release:

NYCHA and the City are pleased that several well-capitalized and experienced New York City residential builders delivered proposals that both meet the Authority’s stated financial objectives, and aspire to enhance our public housing developments and neighborhoods with well-conceived and well-designed plans.

The release provides the potential revenue injection into the city's coffers. NYCHA's ground rent payments under the highest proposals for each of the sites (a total of 11 citywide) would yield an aveage of $37 million annually, which the agency says could finance an estimated $700 million to $900 million "for full exterior and interior upgrade and restoration of the more than 9,000 NYCHA homes located on the six [city] sites."  Developers offered proposals for 11 of 14 city sites, including six of the eight participating NYCHA developments.

In addition, the NYCHA assessment says about 3,600 new rental apartments would be built under the RFPs, if enacted, "including 720 that would be permanently affordable, including affordability for NYCHA residents."

But the RFPs will be waiting on Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's new desk in January.  The NYCHA release says

NYCHA and the City do not expect to move to a conditional designation on any of the sites prior [to] the end of 2013 and will release additional details at a later date. Along with the next administration and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), NYCHA will have a strong foundation from which to pursue this avenue for funding critically needed investment in New York City’s aging public housing infrastructure.

Still, the proposals aren't dormant.  In addition to the continuing review, the press release says that Fred Harris, NYCHA’s Executive Vice President for Real Estate Development, reported, “NYCHA added the requirement that developers would now participate in the ULURP process (involving greater community input) on five of the six campuses, as they add commercial facilities to each of the sites.”

The ULURP is a formal Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for public City Planning Commission assessments.  Details HERE.

While NYCHA has been under a microscope for its inability to make repairs, sometimes for years  (most recently on QuidnuncRE HERE), yesterday, beleaguered Chairman John B. Rhea sent out a lengthy email report on his agency's positive during his tenure, which is presumed to end when de Blasio is inaugurated on Jan. 1 if not before. 

In his message, Rhea cited the success of the RFP proposal as laying the groundwork for future development.  It says,

This year, we worked with a range of stakeholders to refine a proposal to lease land at eight developments for the creation of affordable and market-rate housing that would generate more than $700 million — enough funding to bring all 10,000 units at these developments to a state of good repair.

The newsletter discusses the other repairs measures that Rhea is currently overseeing--which in turn is being overseen by a federal court under a consent agreement struck a week ago.  You can read Rhea's message HERE.

At the same time, Mayor Mike Bloomberg put out a 146-page spreadsheet listing his 2001, 2005 and 2009 campaign promises, and the current status.  One of the few initiatives that has not been completed and is listed as under reconsideration is on common ground with the NYCHA RFPs.  The report notes that the mayor pledged to create a "Charter School Real Estate Task Force to examine innovative ways to finance charter school construction through specialized credit facilities, increased use of NYCHA space and property, and long-term leases."  

Bloomberg notes that the city's Department of Education "explored this proposal but did not move forward."  Nevertheless, there has been progress on the point.  Bloomber notes, "The DOE and NYCHA are already collaborating with the Harlem Children's Zone. Further, there is currently enough space for charter schools--assuming all charter applications are approved by the State, planning has already begin for the out years as far as the 2015 school year."

The Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy I school at E. 125th St. and Madison Ave. is one of four charter schools that have been developed by Bloomberg adminstration efforts that successfully raised $100 million in nonprofit and private funding and combined it with city efforts to build new charter schools. It opened in September in a facility that was created with NYCHA.

The Bloomberg campaign promises document details the many development initiatives that are visible on the city's landscape.  It's well worth a look. It can be searched and read HERE.

The New York City Housing Authority statement on the RFPs, posted Thursday, can be found HERE.

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