Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer announced his strong opposition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to sell three city-owned Lower Manhattan commercial buildings, citing the “need for public benefits,” in a press conference today outside 49-51 Chambers Street.
As head of the borough board, a body whose approval is required for sale of assets through the Economic Development Corporation, Stringer said he can and will avoid a vote on the sale of the buildings until he receives a “clear definition of public benefit,” from the Bloomberg administration, according to a statement from Stringer’s office today.
The three buildings, totaling 669,000 square feet, are 22 Reade Street, 49-51 Chambers Street and 346 Broadway, as Bloomberg announced in his “state of the city” speech, yesterday. All of the buildings are currently occupied by city tenants. Stringer told Bloomberg he’ll block the bid to sell Lower Manhattan buildings because he wants the city to retain them and build schools and affordable housing instead. He called Bloomberg’s plan to sell the assets “a hasty and imprudent way of solving budget shortfalls,” in a letter to the Mayor’s office this week.
“The borough president believes that the city should explore every opportunity available to create new affordable housing for the middle class,” the statement from Stringer’s office said. Stringer estimates that as many as 653 units of housing could be provided by the city buildings Bloomberg wants to put on the block.
State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick made statements in support of Stringer, in the release.
“As Lower Manhattan has grown, we’ve had increasing need and shrinking availability of locations for the schools and affordable housing the neighborhood needs to continue to thrive,” Squadron said in the statement.
“City-owned or state-owned property is actually owned by the people,” Glick added, according to the statement. — Guelda Voien