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No Second Chance for Seward Park Co-op on Air Rights

Lower East Side, Manhattan

Seward Park Air

The site where a 26-story condo tower is rising next to the Seward Park Co-op (image via Google Maps).

Oct. 24, 2018

Shareholders at the sprawling Seward Park Co-op on the Lower East Side appear to be suffering from a rare malady known as non-seller’s remorse. After failing to win a vote of a two-thirds supermajority of shareholder to sell the co-op’s air rights for $54 million this summer, some pro-sale shareholders began circulating a petition calling for a re-vote, the Lo-Down reports.

In June, about 58 percent of co-op’s 1,728 shareholders voted in favor of selling 162,000 square feet of development rights to the Ascend Group and Optimum Asset Management, which had plans to build two condo towers flanking the landmarked Bialystoker Nursing Home adjacent to the co-op’s property. But the developer wanted to build even bigger and taller towers, hence the offer of $54 million for the co-op’s air rights. 

In a notice sent to residents last week, the co-op board reported that more than 25 percent of the shareholders had signed the petition calling for a special meeting to reconsider the air-rights issue. There was one small problem.

“The developers formally notified the board that they are not interested in revisiting the air rights proposal and are instead planning to proceed with as-of-right development,” the board wrote in a memo. “Accordingly, the shareholder petition is no longer relevant and the special meeting will not be held.”

Ascend and Optimum are now planning to build a single 26-story tower to the east of the landmarked nursing home. A parcel on the west side of the Bialystoker will serve as an outdoor space for residents of the new condo complex.

The co-op board, which supported the air-rights sale, is facing at least $12 million in mandatory maintenance projects. Since the $54 million pay day isn’t coming, the co-op is refinancing its mortgage. The board memo stated, “We plan to close soon on the $60 million loan.”

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