The Real Deal New York

This month in real estate history

A look back at some of New York City's biggest real estate stories
By Adam Pincus | February 01, 2013 07:00AM

1967: NYC’s first $1B construction budget

Mayor John Lindsay

Reflecting the booming local economy (and population), City Hall proposed New York’s first $1 billion construction budget, 46 years ago this month.

Mayor John Lindsay presented the historic budget — which spanned the fiscal year beginning in July 1967 — to the Board of Estimate and city council. The dollar figure was an astounding 61 percent above the prior year’s budget of $667 million. Most of the increase was to be offset from a large rise in federal funding, according to reports in the New York Times.

Lindsay directed the biggest slice of the pie to the Board of Education, which was allocated $175 million for new school construction.

He also included $109 million for transit, as well as $66.5 million for hospitals and $25 million for housing redevelopment in neighborhoods like Harlem, the South Bronx and central Brooklyn.

The Board of Estimate and city council approved the capital budget with minor changes in March. The rest of the city’s budget — the $5.2 billion expense budget — was passed in June.


1933: New city housing authority proposed

Affordable housing advocate Mary Simkhovitch

Plans to create what would become the New York City Housing Authority were unveiled 80 years ago this month.

Indeed, the New York State Housing Board sought to create the new city agency that would have broad powers to construct apartment buildings in poor areas of the five boroughs. The redevelopment effort was known as “slum clearance” at the time.

Mary Simkhovitch, the founder of the National Public Housing Conference, a leading affordable housing organization, backed the plan, giving it instant credibility.

The new city authority was given the power to purchase and condemn areas considered unfit for habitation and then redevelop the land for affordable housing using both public and private financing. The proposal tapped into newly created mechanisms of federal funding.

In January 1934, the Municipal Housing Authority (later renamed the New York City Housing Authority) was created by the newly sworn-in Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

The next month, the new agency received $25 million for the effort from the federal government’s Public Works Administration, an agency formed as part of the New Deal in 1933.


Varick Street, where Trinity Corporation owned property

1909: Trinity Church to sell residential holdings

The Trinity Corporation, the landlord for Trinity Church, announced plans to exit the residential ownership business on the west side of Lower Manhattan, 104 years ago this month.

Under pressure from the media and city government, Trinity — which held commercial and residential properties valued at about $30 million around the time — had been criticized for more than a decade for owning small residential properties in slum conditions in the area.

News reports dating back to 1894 detailed the poor quality of the living conditions discovered by the city in Trinity’s buildings. Those conditions included the lack of running water to upper floors of its residences.

Trinity denied that it owned low-quality buildings and said many of the poorly maintained properties were leased to other owners who didn’t repair them.

Nonetheless, Trinity said it would sell — or convert to commercial buildings — the mostly one- and two-family residential buildings on about 700 parcels it owned in the area between Christopher and Vestry streets and Washington and Sullivan streets.

The church first acquired the properties as part of a 215-acre land grant in what is now Manhattan’s Hudson Square area from Queen Anne of England in 1705. Today, Trinity Real Estate owns a 6 million-square-foot office portfolio on 15 acres in the neighborhood.