With a portfolio of apartment buildings in Harlem selling for $940 million this month, public officials are beginning to offer responses. The buildings were formerly apart of the Mitchell-Lama program, a state-backed affordable-housing initiative.
“It’s alarming,” said state Senator Bill Perkins of Harlem. “No one knew about it. It’s not like notice was given and folks were told who the new owners would be and what the implications would mean.”
The apartment buildings – located at 3333 Broadway, 1990 Lexington Avenue, 1890 Lexington Avenue, 455 East 102nd Street, 1940 First Avenue, 1307 Fifth Avenue and 510 Main Street on Roosevelt Island – were all removed from the Mitchell-Lama program before the sale. It was the second-biggest residential portfolio sale in Manhattan history, behind only Tishman Speyer’s purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Cooper Village last year.
The new landlord, Urban American, will certainly have to raise rents to justify its hefty purchase cost.
“Generally speaking, we’ve seen buildings come out of Mitchell-Lama over the years,” said Mr. Perkins. “But this is a new strategy. We haven’t seen this where somebody buys them all up. This is a whole new real-estate thing going on that might not be in the interests of maintaining affordability.”
It might not end there. According to one source, Knickerbocker Village, a series of Mitchell-Lama high rises in the Lower East Side, might be removed from the state program and refinanced by a private landlord with the intention of raising rents.