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Community Board 3 Supports 180 Ludlow Conversion

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180 Ludlow Street.
180 Ludlow Street.

As we mentioned this morning, Community Board 3 has now passed a resolution in support of the conversion of the stalled hotel project at 180 Ludlow into a residential building. A preliminary proposal was hammered out at last week’s land use, zoning and housing committee. But when the matter came before the full CB3 board last night, new language was added, detailing the developer’s commitment to setting aside several units as “affordable housing.”

The developer, Serge Hoyda, has applied for a variance with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, a necessary step to transforming the shell of the 19-story hotel into a residential rental building. The community board’s approval was not necessary, but will strengthen Hoyda’s application. The hotel, which lost its financing, is one of dozens of stalled projects across the city. Since the Board of Standards is struggling to come up with a master plan for dealing with the larger problem, Hoyda’s application could easily become snarled in bureaucratic red tape.

In the days before the economic collapse, developers were called on to reserve 20-percent of market-rate buildings for low-income residents. Hoyda’s representatives told the community board no bank will finance that sort of project today. Their plan calls for creating 158 rent stabilized apartments, what Hoyda’s attorney Jessica Loeser, described as “not a luxury building, (but)  a market-rate, no frills building.” They offered, knowing it’s a high priority for the board, to provide 5 affordable units to the community, as an “act of good faith.” They also agreed to open up the building’s meeting room to the community and to refrain from leasing the ground floor retail space to a bar or restaurant with a liquor license.

Last night, several CB3 members, affordable housing advocates, pushed to include more specific concessions. Board member Harvey Epstein wanted the resolution to make it clear the five units would be “permanently affordable,” not just affordable to the first tenants. Other members felt it was important to spell out that the contractors would make a “best faith effort” to hire local, union labor.” They also inserted language requiring the building’s meeting room to be available to the community somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 days a week. All of these items were included in the resolution that passed. CB3’s approval of the plan is contingent on a “memorandum of understanding” laying out the details being completed by the middle of December.

Hoyda’s representatives said they would go back to him with the new stipulations, but they could not commit to them before the resolution was voted on last night. Assuming he accepts the new conditions, the next step is the Board of Standards’ public hearing. There’s no date for that, as of this afternoon.

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