New York City officials ask for a possible sale of a proposed nonprofit housing development in Chinatown

Feds urged to reject plan to sell troubled Chinatown building for low-income seniors

A new nonprofit housing development in New York’s Chinatown has been proposed, but it may not be able to be built in a timely fashion, so a county official has asked local officials to reconsider its possible sale in Manhattan.

The proposal, from New York University, calls for building a new three-story apartment complex on an unused site at 618 Broadway in the heart of Chinatown. The city’s Office of Neighborhood Integrity ruled in June 2012 that the property was being operated as a for-profit apartment building that failed to meet all affordable housing requirements, and the development was therefore ineligible for subsidies under the city’s programs designed to help fund affordable housing for the poor.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation Preservation and Development has given the project the green light, and will be working with the nonprofit, the New York Times reported. But the report noted that while the project is expected to generate $36.1 million in sales tax revenues over 50 years, that is not enough to cover the cost of building the 1,200 apartments.

If a portion of the property were to be sold in Manhattan, the project would make up for the shortfall. The Times reported that the New York State Community Reinvestment Act — an anti-poverty program adopted by New York in 1969 — requires the city to offer as much as $50 million in low-cost rent subsidies for the project to be built in Manhattan.

“If you want an affordable housing project to be eligible for federal subsidies you have to have at least five units built there,” said a senior official for the Department of Housing Preservation Preservation and Development. “There are seven units that are not going to be built here and we’re going to have to take that back to the federal government.”

The project — which would have been called the Grand Street Apartments — would have included five floors of 1,200 apartments (with room for three more above that) and an estimated total of $36.1 million in state and federal subsidies.

That may all be moot, however, if the federal government decides not to provide the funds.

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