New York Daily News: Bill would raise the bar for NYCHA's plan to lease public land for luxury developments

Brad Hoylman

May 02, 2013

May 2, 2013 : By Greg B. Smith

Manhattan legislators want to make the Housing Authority dramatically increase public input into its plan to lease land for luxury housing. The officials filed a bill requiring NYCHA — which they charge has been secretive in pushing the proposal — to face the same tough scrutiny ordinary developers endure, the Daily News has learned.

NYCHA has been aggressively pushing its plan to lease land in eight Manhattan developments to build 4,300 apartments, most of them market rate.

The plan would raise $46 million annually.

But critics question why public land should be leased for private developments that include 80% market rate and 20% affordable apartments at a time when the city needs cheaper housing.

NYCHA, a public authority run by mayoral appointees, is not currently subject to the strict scrutiny other city agencies and ordinary developers face.

On Friday, Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymen Brian Kavanagh and Keith Wright filed a bill that would make NYCHA obtain more public comment from tenants and surrounding communities.

Under the bill, NYCHA would also need city Planning Commission and City Council approval for its plan.

Hoylman said increased scrutiny is crucial because of NYCHA’s secretiveness: “They’ve been confusing and dismissive.”

Wright, chairman of the Housing Committee, said NYCHA appears to be “trying to ram [the plan] through in the remaining days of the Bloomberg administration.”