Landlords slow East Harlem development by keeping apartments off the market

October 31, 2011 10:21AM

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321 West 116th Street (credit Harlem + Bespoke)
Landlords of some East Harlem walkups are stifling a revival of population and development otherwise taking hold in the neighborhood. According to the New York Times, the area is overrun with vacant four- and five-story apartment buildings, whose owners are purposefully keeping the units off the market.

Some landlords are waiting for rents to increase to the point where it justifies rehabilitating dilapidated units and renting them out. Others are holding them in bulk in hopes of packaging them to a developer willing to pay millions for the land. Many of the units have been vacant since the 1970s and 1980s when low-income residents moved into the housing projects being developed by the city during that time.

City officials have met with some of the larger landlords in the neighborhood, including a real estate firm called Ross & Ross, in hopes of answering to local residents’ hopes that the city can spur development in the area. Three-quarters of all mostly vacant apartment buildings are north of 96th Street, according to a recent survey, and the apparent lack of tenants and care for these buildings have hindered improvement for the neighborhood, the Times said. [NYT]