By Sarah Trefethen
New York City’s plan to sell three downtown office buildings is facing opposition from local politicians who don’t want to give up rare city-owned space for commercial use.
As part of a land use review proceeding, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recommended the planning commission reject the city’s plan to sell 22 Reade St., 49-51 Chambers St., and 346 Broadway.
The NYC Economic Development Corporation in April issued a request for proposal from developers interested in buying any one or all of the buildings, which total 750,000 s/f. The RFP highlighted the buildings’ potential for hotel, residential or office use. Stringer wants the city consider inclusion of alternate uses for the buildings, such as public schools, affordable housing, cultural space, or spaces for non-profits organizations, and not sell them for strictly financial considerations.
“Lower Manhattan is one of the nation’s premier central business districts, but it is also experiencing a boom in its residential population,” Stringer said in a statement. “I believe the City should strive to provide the infrastructure necessary to support this new population. I look forward to working cooperatively and constructively with the administration so we can reduce the City’s financial footprint—a key goal in the disposition of these buildings—and also address community needs.”
Manhattan Community Board 1 has also expressed disapproval of the proposal.
On July 18 the EDC issued another RFP, for law firms to submit a proposal for on-call counsel services in connection with the sale of the buildings.
A representative of the Division of Citywide Administrative Services, the city agency in charge of selling the buildings, provided the following statement in response to Stringer’s critique: “Our goals are to consolidate and improve City office space, cut costs and generate tax revenue from buildings that are currently underused. We will review the proposals we’ve received and work with the many stakeholders in this process to make sure that the final plan best serves Lower Manhattan.”