L+M Development Partners and Nelson Management Corp. announced earlier this week that they have purchased Lands End 1, a 260-unit mixed income property at 257 South St. L+M is one of three firms building the large Essex Crossing project in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. It was also part of a group that bought Lands End II in 2013 for $279 million.
We asked residents of the building in the Two Bridges area for their thoughts on the transaction. Leaders of the tenant association said a letter from the new owner was slipped under residents’ doors yesterday. Robert Nelson, president of Nelson Management, also called Aaron Gonzalez, the tenant association president. In a statement, tenant leaders wrote:
It has… come to our attention that L+M Development Partners and/or Nelson Management Group… intend to extend affordability to at least 50% of the units through an article XI tax incentive program. While we do not fully understand yet what specific impact this will have on our neighbors and details are still sketchy we remain cautiously optimistic that this is a positive development. We thank Councilwoman Margaret Chin for her efforts in helping to facilitate this important preservation of affordable housing stock if our modest hopes ultimately prove true. While (the tenant association) cannot claim any direct role in these potentially positive developments we feel it is through sustained and consistent community involvement and the willingness to engage all relevant stakeholders that we beckon social responsibility. In this we enjoy support and shared vision with our allies at TUFF-LES (Tenants United Fighting For Lower East Side). We’ve become increasingly aware over the past year of what some have described as a “bidding war” regarding the potential sale of Land’s End One. Though accounts in general have been mixed in news reports involving our new property owner we are eager to establish a good working relationship on behalf of our fellow friends and neighbors at Land’s End One. We hope to address long standing issues such as they may be, preserve and otherwise strengthen enduring affordability and find common ground in furthering community advocacy of mutual benefit.
The building opted out of the Mitchell Lama affordable housing program in 2004, but eligible tenants receive enhanced Section 8 vouchers. Today, there’s a mix of market-rate and subsidized apartments at Lands End 1.
L+M has faced some criticism in the news media for its labor practices. The firm and BFC Partners (another Essex Crossing developer) have purchased a 50% stake in several New York City Housing Authority developments. That deal was the subject of a City Council hearing this week.
UPDATE 2/25 We received the following statement today from a spokesperson at L+M:
We are proud of our 25-year track record of public and private partnerships to help build high-quality affordable homes for New Yorkers. As a company, it is our mission is to provide meaningful jobs and fair wages on all our projects, and we go above and beyond to ensure safety at our sites. We take the TA’s feedback to heart and look forward to working closely with them to improve residents’ quality of life and ensure Lands End I remains a source of affordable housing for the Lower East Side.”