April 20, 2020
Richard S. LeFrak
40 West 57th Street, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. LeFrak:
We write today as elected representatives of Lower Manhattan on behalf of the residents of Gateway Plaza.
We would like to begin by saying that we are heartened to learn from our conversations with Gateway tenants that the LeFrak Organization’s management staff has been highly responsive in addressing repair needs and in accommodating increased service requests during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health emergency and economic crisis that all New Yorkers are facing. We know that this is a very challenging time to provide such services, and we appreciate the care that your organization is taking to meet your tenants’ needs.
We also understand that you are continuing to negotiate with the Battery Park City Authority toward a new affordability agreement to replace the “quasi-rent stabilization” (QRS) agreement that is scheduled to expire in less than three months. We appreciate your commitment to coming to terms that will enable Gateway Plaza to continue to provide housing affordable to the current residents, many of whom have been among the pillars of this community for years.
Unfortunately, with the current QRS agreement set to expire on June 30th, tenants are receiving renewal leases that appear to be premised on there being no agreement in place after that date. These renewal leases include substantial rent increases and a deadline of 30 days from receipt of their offers to sign the new lease, after which, they are warned, they will be considered “to have irrevocably declined renewal.” This is causing enormous concern and anxiety among tenants, and is especially problematic at a time when stay-at-home orders are in place with many residents having lost their jobs or significant portions of their incomes due to the economic crisis.
In light of this, we respectfully request that you do everything feasible to bring negotiations to a swift conclusion and enter a new agreement to replace the existing QRS agreement. (We have urged the Battery Park City Authority to do the same.) If that is not possible, we request that you consider agreeing now that in the event there is no long-term agreement by June 30th, you would grant a four-month extension to the existing agreement, resulting in a new QRS expiration date of October 31, 2020, and a four-month extension to existing leases that expire on or after June 3oth. If there are terms in any new agreement reached after June 30th that are more favorable to tenants than those of the existing agreement, we would ask that they be applied retroactively to that date.
We understand that following the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, the LeFrak Organization graciously provided extensions to all leases, both stabilized and market-rate. We ask that you consider repeating this laudable approach once again, as our community and our country once again face an extraordinary crisis.
We appreciate your consideration and look forward to your response. If you wish to discuss this matter, please feel free to contact any of us directly, or via Laurence Hong of Assemblymember Niou’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-312-1420, or Gigi Li of Councilmember Chin’s office at email@example.com or 646-737-4841.
Gale A. Brewer
Manhattan Borough President
Margaret S. Chin
Scott M. Stringer
New York City Comptroller
cc: Benjamin Jones, President/CEO, Battery Park City Authority
Rosalie Joseph, President, Gateway Plaza Tenant Association