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May 25, 2019

Harlem apartment building overlooking Central Park leaving Mitchell-Lama program, but will remain affordable another 40 years

September 28, 2018
Lakeview Apartments in Harlem will remain in a key affordable housing program for another 40 years. (Google Maps)

ALBANY — A Harlem apartment building will continue to offer affordable housing for another 40 years under a deal announced Thursday.

Lakeview Apartments, which is at the corner of 5th Ave and 106th Street in East Harlem and has 446 apartments,is leaving the Mitchell-Lamas affordable housing program this year, which could have resulted in market rate rent hikes as apartments became vacant, aides to Gov. Cuomo said.

But under the new deal worked out with the state, feds, city, building owner LIHC Investment Group, and tenants, the building, which was constructed in 1974 and overlooks Central Park and the East River, will exit Mitchell-Lama but continue to provide affordable housing over the next four decades.

“This agreement guarantees that residents of Lakeview Apartments will have safe, comfortable, affordable homes for years to come even as rents continue to rise rapidly around them,” Cuomo said. “By continuing the affordability established by the Mitchell-Lama program, we are preserving homes for New York’s hard-working residents here in Manhattan.”

LIHC principal Charlie Gendron told the Daily News that the deal is especially noteworthy given the building’s location along Central Park.

“It’s just an unusual event where you’re able to preserve a property that usually (when it leaves Mitchell-Lama) is market driven,” he said. “It took a while to get here, but we’re finally here and I think everybody’s pretty excited.”

Under the agreement, the state will refinance $14 million worth of outstanding debt LHIC owes at a lower interest rate. In addition, the city will provide real estate tax relief, Cuomo administration aides said.

In exchange, virtually all existing apartments, 435 of 446, will move from the Mitchell-Lama program to a federal Section 8 housing, which will keep lower rents in place and ensure tenants spend no more than 30% of their income on rent. For tenants of 130 apartments, they will actually see their rents reduced to meet that 30% requirement, Gendron said.

The move was made possible after Congress earlier this year passed legislation pushed by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan).

Meanwhile, for the remaining 11 units of the 446, LIHC has agreed that any of them that open up will be made available only to new tenants who earn no more than 110% of the area median income, Gendron said.

With the money saved from the debt refinancing and the city tax relief, LIHC agreed to undertake more capital improvements, including new roofs, new kitchens and upgraded bathrooms for all apartments, improved security systems, renovated lobbies, energy improvements, new elevators and upgraded laundry rooms.

Gendron said LIHC in recent years already spent $20 million of its own funds on capital improvements.

Jo Ann Lawson, president of the Lakeview Tenants Association, hailed the agreement as a “win-win for everybody.”

“This is a monumental moment in the history of New York,” Lawson said. “This is a model of what can be done when people work together.”

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