Tenants get info on Campos, E. 4th renovations

A rendering of the spiffed-up exterior treatment planned for Campos Plaza 1 as part of the renovations.
A rendering of the spiffed-up exterior treatment planned for Campos Plaza 1 as part of the renovations.

BY ZACH WILLIAMS  |  About 50 local residents came to a Community Board 3 meeting on March 9 to hear more details about a deal that recently made Campos Plaza 1 and the E. Fourth St. Rehab developments half privately owned.

A partnership between the New York City Housing Authority and two developers, L&M Development Partners and Preservation Development Partners, in December established Triborough Partners LLC as the owner of the two project-based Section 8 East Village complexes, as well as a total of four others in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

The entire deal is expected to generate about $360 million over 15 years for the cash-strapped Housing Authority and finance about $80 million in repairs and renovations for the six properties.

Out of the $80 million, Campos Plaza 1 and E. Fourth St. Rehab are respectively slated for $26 million and $7 million in renovations.

NYCHA will retain 50 percent ownership of the properties and a first right of refusal — essentially a “first among equals” status within the partnership, according to the agency. The two development partners were chosen for their experience managing similar properties, said Bill Crawly, NYCHA vice president of development.

“We have no reason to think that they will not perform,” he said, “but we can replace them if necessary.”

Partnership representatives highlighted the renovations planned for Campos Plaza 1, at 635 E. 12th St., and E. Fourth St. Rehab, at 227 E. Fourth St., at the meeting of the C.B. 3 Public Housing and Section 8 Housing Subcommittee, held at Campos Plaza. The renovations and repairs are slated for completion by the end of 2017.

New roofs and exterior facade treatments are part of the plan, as well as upgrades of building systems, such as boilers and hot-water heaters to make them more energy efficient. New windows will be installed, plus emergency generators, according to the plan.

Residents will get new bathrooms and kitchens, plus other necessary repairs, including painting, window guards and electrical system updates. Building lobbies, entrances, community spaces and outside public areas will receive aesthetic and safety upgrades. No one will be displaced by the renovations, and rents and tenant protections will remain the same under the new management, reps said.

Tenants’ concerns will be addressed within 24 hours, according to Richard Doetsch, whose company C and C Apartment Management, now oversees maintenance and operations of the properties.

“What I want to emphasize — and this is the most important thing — is communication,” he said.

But fears linger that the deal could lead to the properties’ conversion into market-rate housing after 30 years, when the deal expires.

Crawly said the buildings’ future Section 8 status depends on whether the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will choose to renew the Section 8 contract — which cannot be guaranteed at the present time.

There were complaints about a perceived lack of transparency around the deal. Councilmember Rosie Mendez told the representatives that her office still has not received records from public meetings that were purportedly held about the deal. She was told that these would be provided to her office soon.

Mendez also chastised the representatives for canceling a meeting with community members in January, as well as not meeting with E. Fourth St. Rehab residents. Brian Honan, NYCHA director of intergovernmental relations, responded that the lack of a tenants association there made it hard to schedule a meeting, but that better efforts would be made to engage her office and the community.

Further concern arose after Honan told Mendez that not only did NYCHA sell a 50 percent stake in the buildings but also the land beneath them. But Honan called The Villager on March 10 stating that he misspoke on that detail. Consultation with NYCHA attorneys confirmed that the land was still entirely owned by NYCHA, he said.

Although audience members said they feel the partnership would provide much-needed repairs to the buildings, some questions remain unanswered. C.B. 3 member Lisa Kaplan disagreed with the notion floated by the representatives that the buildings were not de facto public housing.

“Although I believe these developers are going to do a reasonable job in the short term, I think we need guarantees for the long term and I don’t see that,” she said.

The representatives also dodged local resident Thea Martinez’s question about why union jobs would not be required for the rehab work. Similar complaints were voiced at a Feb. 10 City Council hearing about the deal.

The deal’s proponents only said that about $80,000 would be spent per residential unit for repairs.

“They were stonewalled at the [Feb. 10] hearing and it seems that they were stonewalled here,” Martinez said. “It would seem that within that $80,000 budget there could be room for union laborers.”