Six months after a controversial development plan was first revealed, the New York City Housing Authority today put out a “request for expressions of interest” from firms that want to build market rate apartments on public housing property. But the process has been slowed down in the face of strong opposition.
The money-raising plan would impact five Lower East Side developments: the Smith, La Guardia, Baruch, Campos Plaza houses, as well as Meltzer Towers, a senior housing complex. The housing agency was expected to formally ask developers for proposals but, instead, is requesting ideas from interested parties, delaying the timetable at least until the end of the year. In a news release, NYCHA explained how the bidding process will work:
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) today released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) from developers for its Land Lease Initiative. The RFEI invites developers to submit proposals for the design, construction and operation of mixed-income rental housing – with retail, commercial or community facility space, where permitted, or required. In issuing an RFEI, NYCHA hopes to identify qualified development teams to demonstrate how the development of these parcels can benefit the Authority, public housing residents and the surrounding neighborhoods… In addition to the various environmental reviews required by Section 18 of the National Housing Act, parcels at seven of the eight developments are likely to require public and resident review as part of the New York City land use approval process (ULURP) as well, most commonly for the addition of a commercial overlay to permit the ground floor retail that residents and the community thought would bring benefits to the neighborhood… Developers that respond to the RFEI will be evaluated on their qualifications to realize their proposals, and those found qualified will be permitted to propose under a subsequent RFP (Request for Proposals) that incorporates the lessons learned through the RFEI process. Proposals that are exceptional in meeting NYCHA’s financial and planning objectives and meet all of NYCHA’s goals for improvement of residents’ opportunities may be conditionally designated as a result of the RFEI process [and not require a subsequent RFP]. If a subsequent RFP is issued, proposers would be competitively evaluated on their willingness to increase the percentage of permanently affordable apartments, or decrease the area median income (AMI) below 50 percent for those units without compromising the financial benefits to NYCHA.
The NYCHA plan has generated a lot of opposition among public housing residents, as well as local elected officials, who have strongly criticized the housing authority’s community outreach efforts. Many people also object to the scale of the proposals; at the Smith Houses near the Brooklyn Bridge twin 50 story towers are envisioned.
The new timetable means an actual “Request for Proposals” would not come until the final days of the Bloomberg Administration or during a new mayoral administration. All Democratic candidates for mayor oppose the plan.
To read more about the plan, visit NYCHA’s web site.