The Albanese Organization – after receiving a state-backed mortgage of $165 million and more than $6 million in annual tax breaks in exchange for limits on rent increases – has filed papers with the attorney general’s office to convert the Solaire, a 293-unit, rent-stabilized tower in Battery Park City, into a condominium, The Broadsheet reports.
The filing is merely the latest sign of the soaring value of lower Manhattan real estate, a trend that has pinched renters. A 2014 condominium conversion of the former rental building at 22 River Terrace, next door to the Solaire, saw hundreds of tenants forced from their homes. The handful that tried to remain eventually left, as several years of construction work made the building uninhabitable. Similar scenarios played out a few years earlier at a pair of buildings at 225 Rector Place and 333 Rector Place.
“It is regrettable that renters and neighbors will lose the protection they have had since (the Solaire) opened (in 2003) and will now be forced to find a reasonable replacement in lower Manhattan,” said Anthony Notaro, chairman of Community Board 1, which includes Battery Park City. “The root cause in this case may be the benefits that developers received. That needs to be addressed legislatively. Additionally, the land-lease in Battery Park City must also be addressed.”
The Solaire condo conversion may represent a tipping point for the Battery Park City community as a whole. Through the early 2000s, even while more new buildings were erected as condominiums, it remained a neighborhood in which the majority of the inventory of apartments (numbering slightly more than 8,500 units in total) were rented, rather than owned by their occupants. But with the conversion of 22 River Terrace, this balance began to shift. Moving the 293 apartments in the Solaire from the “rental” to the “condo” column will add another three percentage points to the latter, meaning that approximately 51 percent of all apartments in Battery Park City will be owned, rather than leased.
The handwriting is on the wall. Another neighborhood has adopted New York City’s 21st-century mantra: get rich, or get out.
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