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Affordable Co-op Coming to a Blighted Corner of Posh Chelsea

Chelsea, Manhattan

Affordable co-op, HDFC, Housing Preservation and Development.

These four derelict buildings in Chelsea (left) will soon be razed to make way for an affordable co-op (right).

July 28, 2022

Is this a trend? Last week we reported on the residents of a derelict 20-unit rental building in Sunnyside, Queens, who, upon learning that the city was moving to foreclose on the property, mounted a four-year fight to turn the building into an affordable Housing Development Fund Corp. (HDFC) co-op. The group has secured a $5.2 million rehabilitation loan from the Community Preservation Corp., and when the rehab is complete, they'll be able to buy their apartments for $2,500. There will be caps on resale prices to ensure the building remains affordable.

Now comes the news that, after a decades-long battle, four rundown buildings at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 22nd Street in the heart of the posh Chelsea neighborhood will be torn down and replaced by a new nine-story building with ground-floor retail and 26 affordable co-op apartments. The buildings' last renters have been temporarily relocated, 6sqft reports, and when the new building opens they'll be able to buy an apartment for $250 or $2,500, depending on their income. The remaining apartments will be made available through the city's Housing Connect lottery to families making 130% of the area median income.

“Manhattan rents just hit a record average of $5,000 per month," says state Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes the project site. "Now more than ever, we need affordable housing, so the new development at 201-207 7th Avenue is welcome news.”

The project will feature studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a 3,500-square-foot ground-floor retail space to be leased to commercial tenants. A terrace and recreational space will be created on the building’s eighth floor for use by residents. There will also be a shared courtyard, a laundry room, a bike room, and an elevator. The building’s construction will include sustainable features such as energy-efficient mechanical systems, natural daylight in hallways, and efficient thermal insulation.

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Financing for the $25.7 million project includes a construction loan from Enterprise Community Partners in collaboration with the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), plus subsidies through Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) Affordable Neighborhood Cooperative Program, which identifies qualified developers to redevelop distressed city-owned multifamily buildings as affordable co-ops for low- and moderate-income households. Additional funding will come from a combination of sales proceeds from vacant units, funds from the Manhattan Borough President and sponsor equity. HPD is partnering with Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), a grass-roots organization that develops affordable housing with public subsidies and also owns properties in Chinatown. AAFE gets a developer fee for doing the project but does not have an ownership stake in the building, according to its spokesman, Ed Litvack

Demolition is expected to start in August and last for three months. Construction of the new building is expected to begin in early 2023 and be completed in 24 months. When the first residents move in, they'll have to make the transition from renting their apartments to owning shares in their own HDFC co-op. The Sunnyside and Chelsea projects might not herald a trend, but they're definitely a step in the right direction.

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