City Council, tenants sue to block NYCHA land lease plan

October 11, 2013 02:04PM

Opponents of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to lease New York City Housing Authority land to developers for the creation of market-rate housing filed suit to block the plan in New York State Supreme Court.

The proposal stems from NYCHA’s efforts to raise revenue for repairs and capital projects by permitting building on the grounds of eight different public housing projects in Manhattan. The lawsuit, filed by City Council and a group of tenants, aims to stall any possible deals until after Mayor Bloomberg’s term ends.

“The city has the ability to designate a developer and tie the hands of the incoming administration,” Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society, which is representing the tenants, told the New York Times. “The new administration would be without remedy.”

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs aim to have the city rescind the expressions of interest request, arguing that housing officials have no authority to lease public housing land for high-income residents under state law. They must, the council argues, submit their plan to city lawmakers for approval.

Housing officials have given developers a deadline of Nov. 18 for so-called “expressions of interest,” though whether they will manage to select construction projects before the upcoming mayoral change remains unclear.

“It’s unfortunate that the City Council is attempting to block a proposal that would generate significant revenue for the New York City Housing Authority — money that would go directly into developments and repairs for residents,” the housing authority said in a statement to the Times.

While mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has not explicity ruled out the idea of development on housing authority-owned land, he has said he favors building affordable housing over market-rate units. [NYT] Julie Strickland