Volume 73, Number 4 | May 26 - June 1, 2004


A great win for affordable housing

The signing last week of an agreement-in-principle insuring that the West Village Houses will become an affordable co-op was a resounding win for the West Village and for the city, too.

At stake were 420 affordable apartments at risk of becoming market rate — with many occupants being forced to lose their homes — as the complex leaves the Mitchell-Lama program.

Congratulations are due to Katy Bordonaro, the West Village Houses tenants association leader, who shepherded the process determinedly to its stunning and successful conclusion. Councilmember Christine Quinn was our local champion, fighting to insure that affordable housing would not become a memory in the West Village. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is, of course, to be praised; the city will forgive $19 million in interest on the city’s mortgage payment loan to allow the co-op plan to go forward. Also, Bloomberg and the City Council, by promising to extend tax abatements to the complex helped insure the plan would become a reality. Shaun Donovan, new commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, played a key role, jumpstarting the process and giving encouragement that a solution could be reached.

Earlier in his administration, Mayor Bloomberg made an ambitious pledge to build a significant amount of new affordable housing. Yet, there were serious questions about his commitment to preserving existing affordable housing. This deal certainly makes it clear the mayor gets the message that affordable housing, and specifically Mitchell-Lama housing, needs to preserved. We salute him for understanding the need for affordable housing and taking action to make sure that existing units are not lost.

Flowers and meat can mix, for sure

A feasibility study for moving the Flower Market to the Meat Market is about to proceed. Of course, we are curious to see the results of the study. But our immediate reaction is that the idea is excellent. The Flower Market has become cramped on side streets in the W. 20s, blocking traffic. Meanwhile, the less heavily trafficked Meat Market has empty city-owned buildings that would be perfect for the Flower Market. The Flower Market operates similar hours to the Meat Market, so it’s a natural fit. Also, by moving the Flower Market in, residential development — which Villagers living nearby and the meat businesses and nightclubs in the Meat Market overwhelmingly oppose — will be kept out. In short, more of the essential character of the Meat Market will be preserved. For us, it seems like a no-brainer. Flowers and meat can mix.

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