Southbridge Towers’ big decision

As we report this week, the 4,000 or so middle class residents at Southbridge Towers are about to see a study predicting how rich they would become if they vote to take their Seaport homes out of Mitchell-Lama housing. Although we have been advocates for the need to preserve and build affordable housing Downtown for quite some time, and we would feel some sense of disappointment if the residents vote to take the 1,600 apartments out of the below-market housing stock, we have no intention of criticizing them if they ultimately decide it is in their best interests to privatize.

They are still a long way from that point, but it won’t surprise us at all if they vote to leave Mitchell-Lama. The residents already own the complex, they just don’t have the right to sell their apartments on the open market. They have many complicated financial reports and analyses to sift through, much soul-searching to do, but it seems more likely they’ll conclude gaining valuable assets will be worthwhile and not a burden.

Many of the residents have lived there for most of the complex’s 35-year-old history, moved in to the neighborhood before it was on the verge of becoming hot, and should not be begrudged any windfall. This is not one landlord buying out of Mitchell-Lama and sending his poorest tenants out on the street looking for homes, this would be Southbridge residents choosing to privatize in a way in which everyone is likely to be able to stay, if that’s what they end up deciding.

Southbridge shareholders on both sides of the issue have suggested sensible improvements to the Mitchell-Lama law that the state Legislature and the gubernatorial candidates should debate, including creating incentives to preserve Mitchell-Lama housing, raising income maximums so middle class people are still eligible to move in, and finding incentives to build new affordable housing. It’s long overdue for Albany to show some leadership, as they did half a century ago in creating the Mitchell-Lama program.

Let’s go Mets…to the Canyon

There may be no parade route in the world more famous than Lower Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes, but sadly this majestic romp past Wall St. has been tickertape free for six years. This page takes no sides in the Mets-Yankees (alphabetical order) battle for New York and we were hoping for another Subway Series, which in addition to being great for the city, would have guaranteed the first post-9/11 Canyon parade. Many of Downtown’s special elements have returned since that horrible day and we long to see crowds lining up Broadway again to cheer. With the disappointing defeat of the Yanks, no strangers to the Canyon, we are hoping that a deep bullpen, Tom’s control, José’s legs, David’s bat and the Carloses’ power will be enough to get the Amazin’s past the Cards and the American League champs. It may very well be the notion of winning athletes being heroes is a relic from the past just like tickertape, but it’s been too many years since we’ve had some excitement in the Canyon. Ya gotta believe.