The Wall Street Journal: Developer Plans Harlem Building

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about real estate developer Joseph Tahl and the lot that he is gunning to buy in East Harlem. Here’s an excerpt:

Tahl Propp’s push to build more apartments in the neighborhood has raised concern among some neighbors, who fret about the company increasing its share of Harlem’s affordable housing market.

“We are increasingly worried about the rent stabilized buildings being converted to luxury condos,” said Emily Goldstein of Tenants and Neighbors, a housing advocacy group.

Joseph Tahl, president and co-founder of Tahl Propp Equities, described his company as a long-term owner and operator of residential buildings with no interest in forcing out tenants to raise rents.

He said about 90% of the 3,500 apartments owned by the company are “affordable” housing units, meaning rents are below market rates or are subsidized.

The article goes on to report that in exchange for the vacant lot, Joseph Tahl would maintain use agreements on four of his other buildings for the next twenty years. In exchange, he would be allowed to purchase a vacant lot in Harlem for $1.

Lets start with what we know. We know that Joseph Tahl is not the champion of affordable housing he says he is. Tenants in affordable units report being pressured to move out. Its noticeably harder for them to get the services that market rate tenants in their building receive easily. And the “90% affordable” figure he swears by? Not quite accurate.

We also know that Joseph Tahl’s “offer” to maintain affordability in these buildings is a not quite what it seems. Some of these buildings already have  Land Disposition Agreements which require him to renew the affordability contracts  for the next 20 years.  Worse, Tahl’s offer to the reluctant-to-sell City of New York looks like it might actually get City support.

Let’s all join together is wishing Joseph Tahl a big GOOD LUCK in his attempt to offer up nothing, and in return get the chance to drive up rents, push out tenants, and change the landscape of an entire community.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal Online.

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