96 Baxter St.
It has been 25 years since the waiting list was open for this building, a 13-story rental tower for low-income seniors at 96 Baxter St. Today the Chung Pak Local Development Corp. in Chinatown is finally reopening the list and accepting applications.
Officials with the organization made the announcement at a news conference yesterday in the 13th floor community room. The building is operated through Chung Pak’s elderly housing branch, Everlasting Pine HDFC. The 88-unit project is supported through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 senior supportive housing program.
The original waiting list contained well over 3,000 names, but has dwindled to a handful. Only people aged 62 and older and mobility impaired applicants over the age of 18 may apply to join the waiting list. In order to qualify for a studio apartment, applicants must have an annual income of $33,400 or less. The limit is $38,200 for 1-bedroom apartments. Eligible tenants pay 30% of their annual income. Applications will be available at the building beginning today (you must bring an index card with your contact info). You can also mail a request for an application to: Everlasting Pines HDFC, 96 Baxter St. New York, NY, 10013. Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 5.
Present at yesterday’s media event were Chung Pak LDC’s acting chairman, Sherman Eng; Director of Operations Jacky Wong; board members; and community leaders. City Council member Margaret Chin and Virginia Kee, founder of the Chinese American Planning Council reminisced about the fight to build the senior housing project in the early 1980s. Kee and Chin were both on the front lines during large protests against the Koch Administration’s plan to build a jail on the site. The jail was built, but a portion of the property was set aside for the low-income building.
Two tenants living in the building are 108, said Eng, while the youngest residents are around 85. One apartment, a 1-bedroom unit, is currently vacant.
Photo: Office of Council member Margaret Chin. Bill signing, 2015.
During the lunch hour today, Mayor de Blasio and local City Council member Margaret Chin will be participating in a “telephone town hall meeting” on the topic of affordable housing for seniors. See the invitation below. If you would like to take part, call 877-215-4765, pin 250. The event begins at 12:15 p.m. Chin is involved because she chairs the City Council’s aging committee.
The attorney representing Chinatown developer William H. Su says he will appeal a decision from the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal ordering payments to the displaced tenants of 128 Hester. As we reported yesterday, the decision requires Su to compensate nine families who were forced to move out of the crumbling tenement building, which was later demolished on orders from the Department of Buildings.
The attorney, Stuart Klein, said the findings are “totally false.” In a phone interview a short time ago, he strongly disputed the conclusion by a housing administrator that construction of an 18-story hotel next to 128 Hester and the alleged failure to maintain the building led to unsafe conditions. Su owns both properties.
The Seward Park site, looking south on Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.
A coalition of community groups and the Pratt Center for Community Development have released a comprehensive report examining what residents would like to see done with the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). The initiative, known as “SPURA Matters,” sought feedback from hundreds of people in late 2008 and early 2009, through several public meetings, a large oral history project and written surveys.
SPURA consists of 5 parcels near the Williamsburg Bridge that were bulldozed by the city 40 years ago. They have remained under-developed ever since due to disagreements in the community about how the sites should be used. For the past several months, Community Board 3 has been trying to formulate a plan all factions in the neighborhood and the city can accept.
The project was spearheaded by GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), the neighborhood housing and preservation organization. But numerous other organizations, including University Settlement, the LES Tenement Museum, St. Mary’s Church and the LES Business Improvement District, were part of the coalition. According to Damaris Reyes, GOLES executive director, there’s a lot of hope in the community that something’s finally going to happen at the SPURA site. The initiative was meant to initiate a conversation and to “help start a community-driven process to put the site back into a broadly productive use.”
The report, prepared by the Pratt Center, took into account the views of 250 people who attended workshops and 300 people who responded to the survey. 60-percent of those who filled out the questionnaire said they wanted to see low and moderate income housing built on SPURA. 32-percent called for a mixture of both market rate and low/moderate income housing. But three-quarters of the respondents said that including market-rate apartments was a “suitable” way to finance affordable housing. One-third indicated the size of the buildings that go up does not matter to them.
There was widespread support for a mixed-use site. While housing was their top priority, respondents wanted to see both small retail businesses and larger businesses like supermarkets and movie theaters. They also expressed a desire for open space (parks), a community center, daycare and health facilities and a cultural center. More generally, residents expressed alarm about the gentrification sweeping the LES – pushing housing costs higher and driving longtime retailers out of business.