The board of the Seward Park Cooperative is inching toward a referendum on the sale of air rights to a development group planning a large residential project alongside the former Bialystoker Nursing Home building at 228 East Broadway.
On Wednesday evening, the board of directors approved a letter of intent that spells out terms of the potential sale. The deal will only go through if two-thirds of those shareholders participating in the referendum vote in favor. A date for the referendum has not yet been chosen. That will follow a community outreach effort at the co-op, which includes more than 1,700 apartments in four buildings on Grand Street.
A joint venture by the Ascend Group and Optimum Group has agreed to pay $48.6 million for 162,000 square feet in development rights. It would also reimburse the co-op for costs associated with the transaction. Last year, the developers purchased the former nursing home building, which is a city landmark, as well as parcels on both sides of the vacant property. In March of last year, we reported that the joint venture had committed to paying $46.5 million for 155,000 square feet. During negotiations, the potential size of their project and the price have risen. Earlier this year, the developers said they would build on the easternmost parcel, 232 East Broadway, with or without the air rights. They envisioned a 31-story tower if the co-op agrees to sell its development rights.
According to a memo sent to shareholders yesterday, the co-op has brought on a firm called NYC Meeting Facilitators to conduct, “a robust process to engage shareholders” about the potential sale. Meanwhile, the Ascend Group has hired a communications firm, Global Strategies Group, to coordinate its own outreach campaign. Once the co-op’s tax specialist calculates the net proceeds from the proposed sale, residents will discuss how the co-op would invest/spend the profits. Seward Park has faced financial strains in the past several years, due to rapidly increasing property taxes and costly repairs within the 1960s-era buildings.
The referendum was supposed to have taken place this past summer, but it was delayed. The issue has already been contentious, with some residents wary of the new project and others optimistic about a big payday.
The developers are just finishing up the demolition of 232 East Broadway, an office building next door to the nursing home tower.
Editor’s note: The publishers of The Lo-Down are residents of the Seward Park Cooperative. It is our policy to disclose any potential conflicts that arise in our reporting.