I.P.N. tenants get notice of sale

By Albert Amateau

The new owner of Independence Plaza North has closed the deal on the purchase of the 1,340-unit Tribeca complex and has begun the year-long process of taking I.P.N. out of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program.

Stellar Management, agent for the new owner, and Duane St. Associates, the previous owner, notified I.P.N. tenants about the long-anticipated ownership change in letters dated June 26.

At the same time, Washington Plaza Towers, Inc. a Stellar affiliate, gave legal notice to tenants that it intends to “dissolve” the I.P.N. connection with the Mitchell-Lama program “on or about June 28, 2004.”

That means the new ownership, led by Larry Gluck, will be able to raise all I.P.N. rents to market rate at the end of June next year.

But the notice also says that eligible tenants may benefit from Section 8 enhanced vouchers which would let them remain in I.P.N. for their current rent or 30 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

However, the I.P.N. Tenants Association, which has proposed converting the complex into a limited equity co-op, has said the so-called “sticky” vouchers could lose federal funding and are no guarantee of affordable housing. The association has also said that many tenants would not be eligible for the vouchers.

“There are several next steps in this process,” Neil Fabricant, I.P.N. Tenants Association president, said last week. He noted that City Council Speaker Gifford Miller promised to introduce legislation “to level the playing field between landlord and tenants” at a June 25 rally at Borough of Manhattan Community College of about 700 people from Mitchell-Lama developments throughout the city.

Fabricant said he wasn’t sure what the legislation would be, but he expected a draft to be ready for introduction soon. A spokesperson for the Council speaker said the legislation would not be introduced before August.

“We also have the promise of [Deputy Mayor] Dan Doctoroff that the city would participate in negotiations to assure that tenants get a fair deal,” Fabricant said. “But so far, the only way to negotiate has been at the point of a lawsuit,” he added, noting that tenants of former Mitchell-Lama buildings have not fared well in recent years in dealing with owners.

The I.P.N. Tenants Association earlier this year hired Alan Epstein of the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips law firm to represent tenants and advise on legislative possibilities.

The Mitchell-Lama program, supervised by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development with oversight from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, allows developers to buy out of the program after 20 years or more by prepaying outstanding mortgages and back taxes.

The Stellar letter to tenants said, “It is our intention to engage in a dialogue with tenants and with H.P.D. officials to make sure the process proceeds as smoothly as possible for all parties involved.”

The letter, signed by Gluck, went on to say, “I’d like to emphasize that we understand how important the transition is to you. I want to assure you that we will work hard to minimize the transition’s impact on the lives of I.P.N. residents. We will also cooperate with H.U.D. and H.P.D. representatives to identify any government subsidies that might be available to residents who meet applicable eligibility guidelines.”



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