East Harlem residents are worried about what will happen to their neighborhood community center now that the city has decided to lease the site to private developers for rental housing, the New York Times reported.
The New York City Housing Authority envisions private developers constructing and operating a residential building at the location where the Washington Houses community now stands; at least 80 percent of the units would be market rate.
Plans for the 55-year-old center, which hosts after-school programs, college prep and life skills workshops, have not yet been settled despite several meetings between housing officials and residents over many months.
“I can understand that they need the money,” said Domingo Munoz Jr, who uses the community center regularly. “But where is the center going to go? An answer — that’s what we want. What’s going to happen to us?”
East Harlem represents a value proposition for developers, Victor Sozio, a broker at Ariel Property Advisors, said.
“They’re acquiring land in East Harlem, in some cases for less than one-third of the price that they would be paying in other parts of Manhattan,” he told the Times. [NYT] –Katherine Clarke