Volume 73, Number 46 | March 17 -23, 2004

I.P.N. tenants, landlord sign deal

By Albert Amateau

Laurence Gluck, owner of the Independence Plaza North complex in Tribeca, signed an agreement on Fri., March 12, with the I.P.N. Tenants Association that will allow residents to remain in their apartments at affordable rents after I.P.N. leaves the Mitchell-Lama program.

The signing, which came after six months of intense negotiations, provides for a combination of federally funded vouchers and a city-sponsored program to help current residents of the 1,329-unit development remain after Gluck takes I.P.N. out of Mitchell-Lama at the end of June.

“As we signed the agreement, Mr. Gluck said, ‘I feel like I’m signing the Oslo Peace accords,’ and I said, ‘Let’s hope it doesn’t end that way,’ ” recalled Neil Fabricant, president of the tenants association.

Gluck, who left town for two weeks on Monday evening, March 15, issued a statement earlier that day: “I have always respected the fact that Independence Plaza is home to over 3,000 New Yorkers. That is why I pledged to work with the tenants association and city officials to craft a fair and equitable plan with as little disruption as possible to I.P.N. residents,” the statement said.

Gluck also acknowledged that the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the staff of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller played roles in the negotiations. Miller staff members presided at several of the sessions, according to Fabricant.

Mayor Bloomberg called the agreement “a win-win because it preserves affordable housing for New Yorkers, especially in a neighborhood where they might be priced out.” The mayor added that former H.P.D. Commissioner Jerilyn Perine was instrumental in bringing the two parties together.

Fabricant said he was pleased at the signing of the settlement, but added that tenants wanted to make sure that the voucher program would continue.

The Bush administration’s proposed budget for next year would restructure the entire federal housing subsidy system. Although a Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesperson said last month that the proposed new system would cover as many tenants as the present one, critics say the new system would cover far fewer people over the next nine years.

The enhanced voucher program, available to tenants in about two-thirds of I.P.N. apartments, calls for rents to be pegged at one-third of a family’s income.

Tenants in about 300 I.P.N. apartments who earn 95 percent or more of the mean family income would enter the city-administered Landlord Assisted Program. LAP rents would be pegged at the current rate with annual increases set by the city Rent Guidelines Board for the first nine years. In the 10th, 11th and 12th years, increases would be the Guidelines Board rate plus 3.5 percent, and thereafter, increases would be the Guidelines Board rate plus one percent.

The agreement also covers rate increases for auto parking at I.P.N. When the complex leaves Mitchell Lama, parking rates will all rise to $200 per month, with $75 monthly increases each following year until the parking fee reaches market rate.

“At one point in the negotiations, Mr. Gluck said. ‘If I hear the word “parking,” I’ll walk out,’ ” Fabricant recalled last week. “So we went out to caucus for quite a long time and when we came back we said ‘parking,’ but he stayed and listened to us,” Fabricant said.


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