Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Roosevelt Island Westview Rental Building Moving Closer To Privatization And Exit From Mitchell Lama Affordable Housing Program - What's Next For Residents?

The last remaining Roosevelt Island Mitchell Lama building, Westview,

is moving closer to privatization and exit from the NYC and State affordable housing program.

The Westview Task Force reported to residents Friday September 17:
Friends, Neighbors, Westview Tenants,

Thank you to everyone who attended our first informational meeting this past Tuesday. There will be two more informational sessions scheduled to answer your questions and to follow-up on questions regarding clarification of terms including subleasing (will be permitted under the plan), MCI’s, and transfers to family members. Informational meetings are scheduled for:

Saturday Morning 9/17 at 10am in the Westview Lower Community Room

Tuesday Night 9/20 at 8pm in the Westview Lower Community Room

We urge all to attend!

The reality for Westview is that Mitchell Lama is going to end. No Mitchell-Lama project has ever remained in the program. The Owner has fulfilled his obligation to provide affordable housing under the Mitchell-Lama program and now has the legal right to take Westview out of the program. He intends to do so and will. We have a choice, to exit Mitchell-Lama with the Affordability Plan in place or risk exiting the program with no plan at all. Negotiations are over.

Voting YES for the Plan guarantees:
1) Rent protection for as long as a tenant chooses to occupy their apartment.
2) The opportunity to own at a heavily discounted price and build substantial equity.
3) The possibility of a buyout.
4) Complete funding of all present and future major capital improvements without assessments and/or MCI increases.

Voting NO does not keep us in Mitchell-Lama and does not get us a better deal down the road. A NO vote means risking exit from Mitchell-Lama with NO Plan, NO rent protection, NO ownership opportunity, NO buyout opportunities, NO funding for building repairs, only uncertainty and the very real risk of market rents.

There are some that do not share this point of view and with those individuals we respectfully disagree. We all share the same concerns. The fact is, we will not get everything we feel entitled to but the alternative is far worse. Having lived in a subsidized housing program for so long the prospect of coming out of Mitchell-lama is a frightening one for some. For most, you need only look next door. Island House has already done what we are going through and there have not been any adverse consequences. Keep in mind also that the Owner will maintain a big stake in the building for a long time to come and has no interest in creating circumstances that will impede the desirability of his own apartments.

Much has changed on Roosevelt Island since we started this journey and we feel this Plan is now the best opportunity we will have. We urge you to attend our scheduled informational sessions and look forward to answering any questions you may have.

Thank You.
In May 2015, Westview owner representative David Hirshorn told me :
Yes, the Red Herring was filed with the Department of Law and copies were provided today to all Westview residents. The Plan is very similar to the Island House plan. We have now asked RIOC to extend the Westview Ground Lease on the same terms that RIOC extended the Island House Ground Lease.
I've asked Mr. Hirshorn for comment on the latest developments in the privatization negotiations.

So far, no answer. Stay tuned for more.

I also asked the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) for a statement about any Westview ground lease extension negotiations. RIOC Acting President Susan Rosenthal replied:
RIOC is coordinating with NY State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), Empire State Development Corp (ESD), tenants and the sponsor to be ready to renegotiate the ground lease when necessary.
Some Westview residents are very scared for their future and doubt they can remain in their apartments based upon what they understand about the proposed plan. According to one long time resident:
... Very bad proposed 'deal' for a lot of residents.

This is just a proposed deal.. NO black book.

The WTF wants residents to vote next weekend.. "Yes" or "No".

I have no real clue where this latest negotiation is originating from.. the Landlord or the WTF or a combo of both.

The Lawyers are being paid by our Landlord.

Now a lot of residents are indicating through the Google group they will vote 'Yes'.

Most of them have the money to do it.

I know some other residents who are very upset and terrified and do not want this form of deal as the final blackbook....
The Roosevelt Island Daily has more information from Westview resident Eileen Gardiner. According to Ms. Gardiner:
... Tenants will have a chance to vote YES or NO to the new Affordability Plan on September 24 and 25. If the tenants reject the new Affordability Plan, it is possible that the owner will attempt to withdraw the building from Mitchell-Lama without any affordability plan.

The owner has a right to withdraw the building, and the Taskforce warned that there could be legal battles ahead if the plan was rejected. According to WTF attorneys, the vote will be decided, without any minimum, on the majority of votes cast — one vote/apartment.

NOTE: This is only a vote to approve the new Affordability Plan. When the Black Book (final offering) is presented, each apartment will have a choice: buy, rent or move (with the possibility of a “buy-out” similar to that offered to Island House residents, which was $100k average/apt.)...
Click here for the full Roosevelt Island Daily article on Westview Privatization.

Here's 2012 post about the Westview ownership's letter of intent to leave the Mitchell Lama Program, 2012 post about Island House leaving Mitchell Lama (same ownership interest as Westview) and 2013 post about Rivecross Coop building leaving Mitchell Lama.

Will follow up when more information available.