Traditionally, developers looking to turn rent-regulated apartment buildings into condos have had two (legal) options: try to buy the tenants out, or wait a long, long time for all units to become de-regulated. Paul Boardman is now experimenting with a third option.
At 711 West End Avenue, between 94th and 95th streets on the Upper West Side, the developer is planning to build a condo building atop an existing rent-regulated apartment building. The catch is that Boardman and his partners — the Miller family and SJP Properties — won’t simply add floors, which is notoriously difficult in an occupied building. Instead, the ten newly constructed condo floors will essentially hover six feet above the existing six-story building, carried entirely by support columns. With the exception of a common elevator shaft and fire escape staircases, the two structures will be entirely separate.
“We get to unlock the value of this site and create a building truly worthy of this great neighborhood without displacing any of the existing residents,” Boardman told The New York Times.
The Department of Buildings approved the plans in June, but predictably many of the rent-regulated tenants have opposed the unorthodox proposal. Tenants have formed a group to stop the project, citing concerns over safety during construction and worries that the steel structure might cast shadows on their windows. Neighboring co-op boards and Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal also oppose Boardman’s ambitious plan.
The developers argue that the new structure will benefit the rent-regulated tenants, in part because the construction will add central air conditioning, a new lobby and a courtyard garden. Tenants who refuse access to their apartments for work could face eviction. The seventh-floor tenant, whose unit would be replaced by the elevator, has refused to vacate or move to another apartment. She has already received an eviction notice, according to the Times. [New York Times] – Konrad Putzier