By Holly Dutton
Opponents of a city plan to lease New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) land to real estate developers have dropped a lawsuit against the city agency.
The Urban Justice Center and the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project agreed to withdraw their legal complaint against the 2013 plan that was made during former Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure citing new Mayor Bill de Blasio’s indication that his predecessor’s plan has been scrapped.
“We are proceeding in good faith based on Mayor de Blasio’s statements,” Aixa Torres, president of the Smith Houses Tenants’ Association, said in a statement. “We expect that the mayor will put his official stamp by instructing NYCHA to withdraw and abandon the [plan] as soon as possible.”
Attorneys for the groups opposing the NYCHA sell-off had planned to argue in court that the agency had failed to conduct environmental reviews and a floodplain analysis, and that NYCHA had not obtained necessary legislative approval to solicit bids from private developers, according to a press release from the Legal Aid society.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was critical of the plan during his campaign for Mayor last year, though he told the New York Daily News in an October interview that he wouldn’t rule out a similar plan, but that it would have to be “carefully constructed.”
The original plan, concocted a year ago in the wake of a serious financial shortfall, would see NYCHA lease land on the grounds of housing projects to city developers, in a bold attempt to generate revenue.
The agency sought to bring in $50 million annually from developers who would build luxury high-rises on leased land in the middle of city housing projects, as part of a larger plan than NYCHA launched to re-haul a backlog of maintenance repairs that had languished in the system.
“This innovative plan to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of value will allow the New York City Housing Authority to re-invest in public housing, where we badly need to make up for the devastating decline in Congressional funding,” a NYCHA spokesman told Real Estate Weekly last March.
NYCHA previously stated the land leases would yield approximately 4,000 apartment units, 20 percent of which would be affordable for low-income residents, in eight different developments around the city, including the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, the Lower East Side and Lower Manhattan.