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UWS Locals to Help Decide Where to Build $50M in Affordable Housing

By Emily Frost | April 8, 2015 6:26pm
 The city has given residents a chance to say where they think the $50 million in affordable housing should go in the neighborhood. 
Collegiate School Affordable Housing
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Locals will have a chance to weigh in on where the city should build affordable housing using a $50 million contribution from Collegiate School earmarked for the units.

Residents can help generate a list of "creative ideas" about where the city should build the units in the neighborhood at a meeting early next month, said Nick Prigo, chairman of Community Board 7's housing committee.

Originally, the private K-8 boys school agreed to construct 55 affordable housing units within the Riverside South development in exchange for building a new school at that site. 

But in early March, Collegiate admitted it couldn't reach a deal to build the units and said it would make the multimillion-dollar contribution to the city to construct them. Residents were infuriated that the school changed the nature of its commitment, worrying the $50 million wasn't enough to build all 55 units it initially pledged.

They were also frustrated by the city's suggestion to build the units on West 108th Street, instead of inside the Riverside South development as first indicated. 

The City Planning Commission, which approved the financial contribution on March 30 and absolved the school of any obligation to build units, has characterized it as a good deal. 

The money will be transferred to the city on July 1, Prigo noted.

"[The city is] going to give us an opportunity to come up with creative ways to keep the [affordable housing] development as close to the intended site as possible," he told residents at a meeting Tuesday. 

The list of potential locations generated at the May meeting, the exact date of which is yet to be determined, will then be vetted by the city's Department  of Housing Preservation and Development, he added.

The opportunity to help shape the process and push to build the units closer to Riverside South is viewed as a victory by board members, who said they supported the chance for community input.   

"I feel like we really made a difference on this issue," Prigo added. 

The City Planning Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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