Parc Place Tenants Win 12-Year Reprieve

The tenants remaining in affordable apartments at Parc Place, the Battery Park City 80/20 building that was bought by Yair Levy in the fall of 2005, can finally breathe a sigh of relief at the news that their landlord has acknowledged their right to stay.
Their worries began when The Related Companies sold the building to YL Realty (Nov. 2005 Tenant/Inquilino) and paid off the bonds and mortgage that made 60 of the 305 units affordable to moderate-income tenants. The original 80/20 program rules had required that the building remain affordable through 2005. But after the 9/11 attacks, Related had given the moderate-income tenants lease riders continuing their lower rents in order to entice them to stay through 2019. Those tenants were the only ones in the building to remain there through the attacks and the site clearing that devastated the neighborhood.
The new owner had originally demanded that the tenants move out, forcing the tenants association to hire lawyers and reach out for political support from Congressman Jerry Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the Battery Park City Authority executives, and others. All expressed dismay that Levy was refusing to recognize the tenants’ rights to stay.
The political pressure paid off when Levy applied to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office for permission to convert the building to a condominium—and it required that the lease riders be disclosed in the offering plan. This disclosure, revealed in May’s black book but not in the earlier “red herring,” shows, in black and white, the owner’s acknowledgement that the lease riders exist and must be honored.
Levy has, however, refused to give the tenants renewal leases with the riders included. The moderate-income tenants meanwhile remain (the market-rate units have been vacant) while the building goes through extensive renovations to convert it to luxury use. “The tenants in our building realized that housing rights were important to defend, and we learned ‘on the job’ about how to use our elected officials to fight for our rights,” said Kim Allen, coordinator of the Parc Place tenants association. “We also learned a lot about real estate and how hard landlords are willing to fight back. Our tenant group represents the ‘real’ New York, and we are glad we have won the right to help rebuild Lower Manhattan.”