Starrett City Stays Affordable

Photo of Starrett City, showing entrance to a brown and tan building with a portico over it. The photo shows about seven stories of the building; it extends beyond the frame of the photo.
Starrett City

Starrett City, the largest federally subsidized housing complex in the country, will remain affordable for another 30 years, easing the minds of residents worrying that a proposed sale would cause rents there to skyrocket. Earlier in 2009, owners of the 140-acre development sold the property that included affordability provisions for working- and middle-class families — provisions that capped a protracted fight between the owners, elected officials, and tenant advocates and residents worrying that the sale would result in elevated prices due to a high sale price (once thought to be in the $1.3 billion range) could encourage new owners to opt out of an affordable housing component, marketing units to a higher-income demographic.

The 46-tower, 5,881-unit Starrett City will remain affordable under the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, a state housing subsidy program, following the property’s sale. In July, the current owners picked a final roster of four potential buyers. Most of the bidders are non-profits; tax-exempt groups who could finance the purchase of the Brooklyn property through the sale of bonds — a sale still considered one of the biggest real-estate deals of the year, despite the falling price tag that, according to The New York Times, is now in the $800 to $900 million range. The Brooklyn-based Christian Cultural Center is reportedly the lone remaining bidder on the property.

Alan Mallach, senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress and the National Housing Institute, is the author of many works on housing and planning, including Bringing Buildings Back, A Decent Home, and Inclusionary Housing in International Perspective. He served as director of housing and economic development for Trenton, New Jersey, from 1990 to 1999, and teaches in the City and Regional Planning program at Pratt Institute.


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