On Roosevelt Island

Good, Bad & Questions Unanswered: September 13 Westview Taskforce Meeting

Updated 3 years ago Eileen Gardiner
Changes Ahead
Changes Ahead
License: Creative Commons 3 - CC BY-SA 3.0 Creator: NY - http://nyphotographic.com/ Creative Commons License

A Good Start, Getting Some Questions Answered

The good news for Westview tenants is that Taskforce held its scheduled meeting on September 13th. Together with attorneys handling the conversion, they answered written questions. 

It was a closed meeting — open only to Westview tenants who provided ID and signed in. 

After a brief overview, tenants’ questions, submitted on cards, were read aloud, then answered by either one of the attorneys or a member of WTF. It was a orderly meeting and finished up in under an hour. 

While the format limited the ability to ask follow-up questions, it benefited from avoiding the ruckus that so often accompanies Roosevelt Island meetings.

What the Westview Taskforce Told Tenants 

So briefly, this is what was reported to the tenants:

  • Transfer List: The transfer list is closed There will be no up-sizing or down-sizing. Why? WTF attorneys stated, without much detail explaining the claim, that the owner fears legal problems if he opens the list up.
  • MCIs: These are “major capital improvements,” and both the owners and renters can be assessed for them. [This is true across NYC. Westview is no exception.]
  • AMIs: These are “average median incomes.” Renters who exceed the AMIs for their area can be surcharged. [Westview tenants are already subject to surcharges if they exceed the AMI.] 
  • Warehousing: The current level of warehoused (i.e., those left vacant) apartments in Westview, apparently at just under 14%, is acceptable to the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR).
  • Repairs: While there was initially some question about whether the estimate for building repairs was $4M or $25M, the Taskforce seemed to accede to a question positing the $25M number. According to Taskforce attorneys, these will be paid for out of the reserve fund and flip taxes. 
  • Subletting: Renters will not be allowed to sublet. WTF said that buyers could not sublet, but this provision appears to apply only to renters (Westview Plan of 9/1/16, p. 14, par. x).
  • Sub-metering: Owners will be sub-metered and will pay for electric usage, renters will not be sub-metered and will continue to have the electricity charges built into their rent. 
  • Balconies and Terraces: According to WTF, the Affordability Plan has discounts built in for these spaces, but they are included in the square footage measurements. 

The Vote Coming Up

Tenants will have a chance to vote YES or NO to the new Affordability Plan on September 24 and 25. If the tenants reject the new Affordability Plan, it is possible that the owner will attempt to withdraw the building from Mitchell-Lama without any affordability plan. 

Update: To comply with New York State statutes as well as the Westview Task Force by-laws, the tenant vote on the "Westview Plan for Preservation of Affordable Housing and Withdrawal from the Mitchell-Lama Program" has been rescheduled to 7:30 pm to 10 pm on Friday Sept. 30 and from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday October 1, Westview Lower Community Room, 625 Main Street. The Westview Task Force sent Westview tenants by mail a notification of the change of date as well as instructions for proxy voting along with a Proxy Vote Form.

The owner has a right to withdraw the building, and the Taskforce warned that there could be legal battles ahead if the plan was rejected. According to WTF attorneys, the vote will be decided, without any minimum, on the majority of votes cast — one vote/apartment. 

NOTE: This is only a vote to approve the new Affordability Plan. When the Black Book (final offering) is presented, each apartment will have a choice: buy, rent or move (with the possibility of a “buy-out” similar to that offered to Island House residents, which was $100k average/apt.)

The Estimated Timeline 

The answer to this was somewhat cloudy. It seems that after the vote in September, the NYS agencies must sign off on the plan. Taskforce attorneys estimated that this might take until January or February, although they also said that the Offering Plan would be made by the end of the year and the first closings would be in the middle of 2017 or later. 

There was no explanation about how this might effect the escalating prices in the Affordability Plan, which start to rise after January 31, 2017 or why, if the offering was in January, the first closing would not take place for six months. 

WTF scheduled follow-up meetings for Saturday September 17th and again for Tuesday September 20th (Westview Community Room at 8 pm). There are clearly some unanswered questions from the initial meeting. 

We hope that, at the next meeting, there will be answers to those questions and others posed here. 

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