Sen. Espaillat Rips Sell By GHCC

March 30, 2014

letter28u-2-webGreater Harlem Housing Development Corporation owns this slice on West 135th Street in central Harlem.

A historic Harlem nonprofit is raising political hackles with its controversial sale of a vacant lot to deep-pocketed developers.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat fired off a letter to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Thursday asking her to oppose the sale of a narrow weeded lot on the corner of W. 135th St. and St. Nicholas Ave. by the Greater Harlem Housing Development Corp.

Espaillat, a Washington Heights pol who is challenging Rep. Charles Rangel in the upcoming Democratic primary, told Brewer the $1.2 million transaction “would undermine efforts to secure safe and affordable housing in Upper Manhattan.”

Brewer has until Tuesday to bestow her blessing for the pending deal — although her opinion is merely advisory. She can’t block the developer, F-lot Development — which plans to build a dozen condos worth $600,000 to $900,000 — from buying the property.

The Greater Harlem Housing Development Corp., an arm of Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, owns 11 decaying apartment buildings near the lot — a portfolio that is plagued with scores of housing code violations.

“The 11 buildings have been reported to have 650 active HPD violations including mold and other safety hazards, unpaid city taxes, and unmet payments to other lenders,” Espaillat wrote.

Chamber chief Lloyd Williams, a Harlem fixture who is a longtime Rangel ally, did not return a call seeking comment. The group has said it needs the money to fix the aging buildings, according to a summary of the plan filed with Community Board 10.

A spokesman from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development said the agency will require the nonprofit to use the proceeds from the sale to pay off its debt and begin repairing its buildings.

The New York Times reported that housing officials gave the Harlem organization $2.5 million to repair the homes in 2010, in the form of a forgivable loan.

At least five tenants living in the nonprofits’ apartments are suing the organization in Manhattan Housing Court, records showed.

Brewer’s office said she was still considering whether to support Greater Harlem Housing Development Corp. in its attempt to sell off its seven-figure asset.

Via NY Newsday

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