Various dignitaries braved the sweltering heat this afternoon to celebrate the beginning of a long awaited renovation project. Thanks to $8 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the city, Masaryk Towers is about to get a major face lift.
The 1110 unit affordable housing complex on Columbia Street will be receiving facade repairs, improvements to sidewalks and parking lots, new playground equipment and new security booths. The plan also includes one particularly controversial addition to Masaryk: fencing that will prevent people from walking through the courtyard on Rivington Street.
Bernice McCallum, outgoing board president, noted that the cooperative’s new leadership will have to raise a lot more money for other improvements, including security cameras, outdoor lighting and lobby renovations. The new president, Dariusz Liszkiewicz, told us another major priority will be converting Masaryk to a more energy efficient power system.
The bulk of the funds for the Masaryk project were approved in 2005, but turmoil within the co-op as well as bureaucratic red tape at the city level caused numerous delays. Today’s news conference was attended by Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Mathew Wambua, as well as local elected officials. Many of today’s speakers said the improvements will help ensure the longevity of Masaryk as a stable source of middle income housing in New York City. As a condition of the funding Masaryk must stay in the Mitchell Lama affordrable housing program for the next 30 years.
According to a press release from HPD, Mayor Bloomberg’s affordable housing program has preserved 7,917 apartments in Community District 3, which encompasses the Lower East Side and Chinatown.