Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fairview Manhattan Apartments

SHOULD THE TOWN APPROVE TAX BREAKS FOR FAIRVIEW MANHATTAN APARTMENTS? AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FROM THE ATTORNEY FOR TENANTS WHO OBJECT TO THE BREAKS:

Serge Joseph, the attorney representing the tenants of Fairview Manhattan Apartments . In short, the attorney for the tenants offers several recommendations:

1. That the Town require the current owner or Marathon to retain an independent and licensed engineer to undertake a physical condition survey of the subject premises and to supply the Town Board and the tenants with a copy of any report generated therefrom. (This recommendation suggests that proposed rent increases are unsupported the rehabilitation that is contemplated).

2. That in the event the “enhanced Section 8” voucher program is de-funded, and preservation vouchers are unavailable, that the proposed new higher rents not be sought by Marathon Development. (This recommendation may be agreed to and supported by Marathon Development).

3. That the Town require Marathon Development to afford financial protection to tenants whose rents would increase because they are not eligible for preservation vouchers. (I do not think this recommendation is one that the tenants believe will be seriously considered).



Several Alternative Proposals are also offered by the tenants..

Alternative 1. Permit Marathon Development to purchase Fairview Manhattan pursuant to the Private Housing Finance Law but limit rent increases to those deemed reasonable by HUD after application based upon needed capital improvements and renovations in the building, as opposed to the current proposed increases of $1,050 for a one bedroom apartment; $1,260 for a two bedroom apartment; and; $1,460 for a three bedroom apartment.

Alternative 2. Allow the Tax Pilot and regulation of Fairview Manhattan under the Private Housing Finance Law to expire in 2009 and allow the Development to become subject to the EmergencyTenants Protection Act of 1974 (“ETPA”), which regulates housing not subject to the Private Housing Finance Law and allows an owner to apply for rent increases based upon (a) lease renewals (b) major capital improvements and (c) hardship.

Alternative 3. Allow the tenants at Fairview Manhattan the option of purchasing the Development and preserving it as affordable rentals or converting it into Affordable cooperatives or condominiums.



Tim Lewis

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't want my taxes going up. Why should the town board give the owners of this building a tax break?

dano said...

I guess I would need some info as to what makes the owner of the Fairview Manhattan Apartments special and possibly deserving of tax breaks.

Paul Feiner said...

MEETING WILL BE HELD THIS TUESDAY IN MY OFFICE at 11 AM with the applicant for the tax breaks...tenant representatives...town officials to discuss possible compromises.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting at 100 Manhattan Ave. I was pleased that Supervisor Feiner scheduled a meeting on Tuesday. Thank you Eddie Mae for also being there for us!

Anonymous said...

Paul said that he will be voting with the tenants. Eddie Mae should be there for us. We need one more vote.

dano said...

Let me see if I understand this ... The tenants support a tax break for the owner so that the owner doesn't drastically increase their rents, right?

Is the owner having financial difficulties or is the owner being greedy and/or stingy?

dano said...

P.S. If the owner is having financial difficulties and it's determined that a tax break would be appropriate for a few years, is there a requirement tied to the tax break such that 1) tenants' rents will not be increased (other than for normal yearly inflation) during the tax break period and 2) whatever municipal code violations that exist will be remedied by a specific date?

Anonymous said...

Eddie Mae,

Predominantly the tenants in our buildings are women. As you know we have a nice mixture of tenants, some lower income, others maybe median range, senior citizens. All of these tenants respect each other and are working class citizens. These building definitely are not getto. We need our support Eddie Mae. We have been there for you, please do not forget us when we need you the most.

Anonymous said...

I do not feel the new Owners need or deserve any special tax break. If they have all this money that they said that they will be putting into these buildings, then why do they need a tax break. Over a certain period of time I think they should have to prove to the Town and to our communities that they need and deserve a tax break. Why should the Town just throw them a bone without them having to prove to the town board that they need abd deserve this tax break. Doesn't this board have any financial accountability. Since Fairview Manhattan Assoc, has proven that they can't manage with the current tax abatement that you the board has given them. What makes you think that this new company want do the same thing?

Anonymous said...

What has happen to our Town Board, I feel that they do not stand by their word, They do not have an honor system. It seems that Paul Feiner cares about the citizens of all of our communities, he works tiresly and definitely do not get cooperation from the rest of the board. I feel that Eddie Mae Barnes does have some sensitivity, and hope that she does not allow Frances Sheehan to bully her as he does Diana Juettner and Steve Bass. Wasn't he just elected on the Board. Why is he trying to act as if he is our Town Supervisor and has no respect for our town supervisor. Frances seems as if he is a bully whip for the Marathon group who is trying to puchase these building and who has no ties to the community instead of the people in this Town. How much longer does Frances Sheehan have in office? It is time for Frances Sheehan to go. The town will be better served when he leaves office. I am sorry that I voted for him. But rest assured I will not make that mistake again. I think it is time for some fresh air on our Town Board. Thank you Paul Feiner for caring, Do not fret, we see and know that you care for all of us. We elected you as our Town Supervisor not Frances Sheehan.

Board Critic said...

Dear Anon at 10:46

Ms Juettner has been on the Town Board for 15 years. Where does she fit in to your thinking about the need for fresh air on the Town Board?

Anonymous said...

I am having trouble meeting my mortgage payments this month. I am a single mother. Where do I apply for a tax exemption?

Anonymous said...

Why should the town raise my taxes so that a real estate owner can make lots of money? Do I get a tax break if I want to fix up my house?

Anonymous said...

How come management didn't keep the promises they made the last time they received tax breaks?

Anonymous said...

Are there precise reasons as to why this particular property owner deserves special discounts? If not, then I guess every owner of rental property in Greenburgh is now eligible for a tax break.

Anonymous said...

The tenants of 90 Manhattan don't like this tax break. The tenants of 100 Manhattan Ave don't like this tax break. The tenants at 33 Oak Street don't like this tax break. DUMB IDEA TO GIVE SPECIAL TAX BREAKS TO ANYONE

Anonymous said...

Read todays Journal News for a more comprehensive article on this. Apparently some tenants object to spending even 30% of their income on rent, and some have such high income that they would not be entitled to subsidies under usual rules.

The town can not subsidize everyone. I want a subsidy. You want a subsidy. This is not fair.

dano said...

Yes, the article in today's The Journal News is excellent:
http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061105/NEWS02/611050380/1018

It clearly explains the situation, and I now understand fully that Greenburgh should provide NO TAX BREAK whatsoever. The matter will be resolved just fine without Greenburgh's involvement.

Also, even without vouchers, the proposed rents are very reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dianna Juettner fits in this category as well. Why were you not at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

No Ones rent should ever double at any one time. I could see a gradual increase. By the Way, What is the audit report for Marathon Corp? Are they really in need of aid?

Anonymous said...

There are alot of people who do not like to reveal their income. alot of them would probably qualify for this enhance voucher. Alot of citizens like their privacy. We the tenants do not mind paying our fair share if the situation warrants it. Marathon has not yet proven that they can do the job properly. Fairview Manhattan is still receiving a tax abatement and they definitely have showned that they could not do it.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

Tenants dont want to reveal their income? This is outrageous.

I have to reveal my income to the IRS.

If if you want food stamps, if you want your child to receive a free lunch or college loans, you have to reveal your income (and document it). Why should a rent subsidy be different?

If Feiner gives tax breaks on the premise that tenants can not afford market rents, and the tenants refuse to document their eligibility for rent programs, that would be outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Feiner has expressed concerns about approving the tax break proposal.

Anonymous said...

Sone Tenants,

Do not like to receive public assistance. They are proud individuals, even though they might be entitle to the Voucher.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

If people dont want to take subsidies, that is their choice. But we can not afford subsidies to everyone. These programs also reduce school taxes.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Town Board will put the tenants first - and a for profit making business second.

Anonymous said...

I hope the town council will put residents first, and consider how they justify a break to some and not others.

hal samis said...

A little review of the situation from a non-lawyer.

It is been well argued about what happens when title passes to Marathon and they become the new owner.
This purchaser is an "investor" looking to make a profit which is by itself an allowable event and happens all the time. There is a lot of money being made by those who invest in low income housing. Marathon, one of many similar minded investors, bears the risk of their equity contribution while seeking a maximum return on their investment. In their purchase is the knowledge that they are purchasing bricks below their replacement value and on land which has been improved by structures which are in place and "up and operating". The buyer's long term desire is to increase revenues and increase their bottom line and to pick up some tax benefits along the way. That is the nature of this, if not all, real estate investments and on the surface, there is nothing wrong or immoral with this business plan.
However:
the only way this can happen is to receive some additional holding period benefits: be it additional tax credits from some Agency; be it from lowering the operating expenses through more efficient means; be it receiving reduced real estate tax benefits; be it obtaining lower borrowing costs through Federal-backed mortgage programs or be it from a reduction in services or charging separately for services that were once included in the rent.

Tenants (those who call the building their home) likely are concerned about so-called operating efficiencies, new fees or reduced services. The other matters are not felt directly by their individual pocketbooks.

On the other side of the ledger is to raise the income of the building either through charging higher rents or from combinations of tenant contributions and vouchers.

Raising rent arbitrarily or forcing tenants into "new" programs is a hardship because of the uncertainy surrounding the transition period.

Another area of concern should be whether new owners will pursue a more agressive program of vacating units with the objective of re-renting these apartments at higher rates than what in-occupancy tenants would be subject to pay. One of the ways owners go about this is to investigate the tenants to determine if they are the name on the lease or whether or not they have any right to reside in the complex. And owners can become more aggressive in collecting rent on time or charging late payment or collection fees.

Paying off Federal Agency backed financing (HUD) also removes their rent control obligations and maintenance reserve requirements that are mandated as the counterpart of obtaining below market rate financing.
Conventional (institutional) lenders may charge higher interest, lend the dollars less agressively but they also leave how the building is run more in the hands of the owners versus governmental protections.

Most of this the residents already understand. What is not so well known is what happens should the buyer decide not to close, to "take a walk". Who will step in as the next buyer in line or will the building remain the unwanted step-child of the current owner. And, in either case, will the tenants be any better off?

In NYC, the recent deal for Stuyvessant Town and Peter Cooper Village (a middle income sanctuary) was a sale made to private investors despite a very close bid from the tenants backed by institutional lenders.
Without the means to such financing, or the seller taking back a mortgage, there is little evidence that the Manhattan Avenue tenants will be able or even be desirous of moving forward with such an arrangement.

Thus, the only relief in sight is that which the Town Board can provide the buyer. And that is the crux of the problem. How does the Town forgo tax revenue to assist a specific address in Town. What is lost in revenue must be gained elsewhere or the Town operating budget must at some point be reduced. If revenue isn't coming in like it used to, it can't continue to go out like it used to...or those property owners paying taxes must dig deeper into their own pockets. Yet, in the total picture, few things that are part of the Town's everyday operating expenditures benefit everyone all the time. If money is being spent on fighting Ridge Hill, if money is being passed through to the Valhalla School District, if the Town is responsible for falling trees in Cottswald, if money is being spent for the benefit of dog owners, if money is being allocated to study Central Avenue, if money is being spent on Parks or Perks that few people will go to much less be able to...these are all precedents that argue in favor of coming to the aid of the residents of Fairview Manhattan Apartments. Offering such assistance is not the problem. What is the problem is that there must be a corresponding "gimme" for granting the new owner his "needed" tax breaks. And protecting the lawful tenants from high percentage rent increases, from evictions, from even changing the ratio of below market to market rents -- these are items that the Town Board can and must do for allowing the desired tax break.
So, it is not only a achievable but doable goal for the Town Board.
BUT:
when you think of your Town Board (5 members), remember that just three votes (3 of them) are necessary to pass or to veto legislation/resolutions.

However the Supervisor votes is not alone the deciding vote. Tow more votes are needed. It just so happens that two of the members of the Town Council (Barnes and Bass) are up for re-election next year. They represent 2 of the 3 needed votes.
Remember how they vote.

Also remember that Ms Barnes lives not in Fairview but in Edgemont.

dear mr samis said...

You imply the town is correct to spend money on Ridge Hill, the Valhalla School District, falling trees, dog owners, studying Central Avenue, parks and perks etc.

Some of these items are covered by insurance. The school district mondy comes from the county. The dog park was funded by the State, ostensibly the study of Central Park will benefit all as will any minimizing of Ridge Hill. Parks as we know are open to all. I fail to see how these items justify giving benefits to tenants in Manhattan Fairview. There may be good reasons to do so but the town expenditures you cite do not make the case for aid especially when our taxes are the highest in the entire country.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Hal,

I don’t understand – you think the town council members are highly paid at 30K per year – yet you think tenants with much greater income should receive rent subsidies.

According to the Journal News
“Under the new structure, current tenants could get enhanced Section 8 subsidies, called preservation vouchers, if they make less than 95 percent of the county's median annual income. That's $67,600 for an individual and $96,500 for a family of four.

Under the proposed deal, new tenants would be ineligible to live in the building if their income is 60 percent higher than the area's median income.”

According to you, many Greenburgh residents –working full time -make less than the 30K of the town council, yet you want them to, in effect subsidize rent of Fairview Manhattan who may have more income. And the tenants and you are questioning the need for income caps that are already pretty high.

hal samis said...

Dear Mr. Samis did not said,

I can understand your reluctance to use your own name because my response would be akin to that of Bill Murray to Jane Curtin on SNL.

The point of listing several money pits (surely it is recognizable as an incomplete list) is that the Town Board dispatches money all over on town and on items which do not by any stretch of the imagination benefit all -- either by geography, interest group or an A vs B inhabitant.

All residents are equal. If you have objections, your case would be that some residents are seen as more equal. As for me, I object to spending 50 cents on fighting Ridge Hill but I recognize that residents that live nearby have concerns. NOr do I have a dog so there is no benefit to me to spending 50 cents to provide a quality of life enhancement for dog owners. Nor do I ever intend to visit Taxter Ridge which I see as a tremendous gift to East Irvington and to all the little creatures that are now protected. And so on...This is the price we pay for being a part of the greater community. Today Fairview residents may get the nod, next month it could be Edgemont. And in January it could be Hastings.

What is valid criticism is if it can be shown that one part of town or one affinity group gets all the benefits and others gets nada. That would be the tack to pursue.
In the meanwhile, it is Fairview at bat.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

I think instead of doling out "bennies" to various areas, the town should focus on basic services -- now is the time to give up on:

- Valhalla payments
- Manhattan Fairview subsidies
- Use of Waterwheel property to subsidize Ardsley fire men.

I think everyone should focus on what will happen if the Town loses the Bernstein litigation, in whole or in part, and what that will do to Village resident taxes. Prudence would dictate that we scale back.

Anonymous said...

Can I get a tax break too? Why should a company that is not based in Greenburgh get a tax reduction?

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear Anon at 8:09

1. The idea behind the tax break is to allow reduced rents with no reduction in services to tenants. Apparently that has not always worked.

2. The proposal on the table already provides a very substantial rent subsidy to tenants funded by the Federal government -- SEction 8 vouchers -- as long as their rent is below limits as described above.

Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

I think the town board should vote no, on this tax abatement for Marathon.Nobody would purchase property without having an independent unbiased inspection of said property first of all.Numbers are just being thrown around vagely by Marathon.They should be made to do this inspection before any consideration of tax relief for his organization is granted.Why is their such a rush to judgement?