Demolition of Affordable Housing, and Landmarking

There are many tactics that developers may use to get rid of tenants, or to make conditions easier for them to push them out, in order to assist with demolition and new development plans.

Apparently there are even classes you can take to learn how to do it.   You may have read the fascinating account by Will Parker at The Real Deal about an “extraordinary” speech given by lawyer Michelle Maratto Itkowitz at TerraCRG’s real estate summit.  It was called “Tenant Buyouts–The Next Generation” and it offers a pretty stark insight into the tactics used to clear long-term, lower-rent paying tenants out buildings.

by: Daniel Maurer of Bedford & Bowery. Crowd in front of East 11th Street buildings that might be demolished to make way for a 300 room hotel anticipating Kanye West performing.

by: Daniel Maurer of Bedford & Bowery. Crowd anticipating Kanye West at Webster Hall gather in front of East 11th Street buildings that might be demolished to make way for a 300 room hotel.

As reported, Itzkowitz directed attendees to “Demolition eviction, page 23,” indicating a pamphlet, which is here on her site, with her explanation of how to do this.

One of the ways that a developer can end a rent regulated tenancy  is by claiming they intend to demolish the building, or even buildings.  The owner must first obtain the approval of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).  Many tenants may be unaware of the full scope of their rights and accept paltry payouts to leave less-than-hospitable circumstances.

Demolition plans have to be filed and approved by the NYC Department of Buildings, the financial wherewithal to accomplish the new project needs to be proven, and the existing tenants can receive moving expenses and a relocation stipend.   The monetary compensation is arrived at according to a formula that extends only six years into the future.  NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal has a Fact Sheet about owner requirements and tenant protections in the case of demolition proposals.

Operational Bulletin 2009-1 (Replaces Operational Bulletin 2002-1) Procedures Pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Code for the Filing of an Owner's Application to Refuse to Renew Leases on the Grounds of Demolition Implementing Emergency Tenant Protection Regulations New York City Rent Stabilization Code New York City Rent and Eviction Regulations

Operational Bulletin 2009-1 (Replaces Operational Bulletin 2002-1) Procedures Pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Code for the Filing of an Owner’s Application to Refuse to Renew Leases on the Grounds of Demolition Implementing Emergency Tenant Protection Regulations New York City Rent Stabilization Code New York City Rent and Eviction Regulations

While demolition is only one of an array of strategies deployed to eliminate affordable housing, it’s an important and seemingly increasingly common one.  And it therefore points out how regulations which preserve buildings that contain affordable housing can provide one important impediment to their elimination.

We recently reviewed a Furman Study that underscored that landmarking does not undermine affordability.  The recent report by Historic Districts Council  “The Intersection of Affordable Housing and Historic Districts” also bolsters this case.

Close to home, EVGrieve reported that  five buildings on East 11th Street might be demolished to build a 300 room hotel. The circa 1890 tenement buildings are 112-120 East 11th Street.  In 2008 when the East Village rezoning took place, the Landmark Preservation Commission in its environmental review of the area found this small cluster of buildings, along with the (already landmarked) Webster Hall across the street, “eligible” for designation as a small historic district.

Collectively the five buildings have had as many as 75 registered apartments, and NYSDHCR records (shown below) seem to indicate that they contained rent regulated units, possibly many.112east11thstreetlistingdhcr

The fight for historic preservation and affordable communities have much more in common than not. The lawyer in question was quoted as saying, in public, “I like demolition eviction and I’d just like to see people do more of it”.  Sadly she is not alone in that sentiment, which is why our work with your support is so important.

This helpful video by Bric Arts Media touches more upon the demolition issue and tenant perspectives with Community Service Society, Met Council on Housing.

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