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Co-op Vote on Air Rights Sale to Determine Height of LES Condo Towers

By Allegra Hobbs | March 27, 2017 5:22pm
 The shuttered Bialystoker Home for the Aged on East Broadway.
The shuttered Bialystoker Home for the Aged on East Broadway.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

LOWER EAST SIDE — Members of the Seward Park Cooperative will soon vote on whether or not to sell air rights to a developer looking to build two luxury condo towers on either side of a shuttered nursing home — determining the height and breadth of the development slated to rise on East Broadway.

The Ascend Group is seeking to buy unused development rights from the housing complex that will allow it to build a 19-story tower on the west side of the former Bialystoker Home for the Aged at 232 E. Broadway and and a 31-story tower on the east side, according to a referendum the co-op board sent to co-op shareholders.

If shareholders, who will vote on the matter in late May or early June, don't approve the sale, the developer will instead build only one 26-story tower on the east side of the landmarked nursing home, the referendum states — an amendment of an earlier plan to build a 19-story tower and a 17-story tower on either side.

The developer and the co-op board have agreed on a price of $46.5 million for the roughly 155,000 square feet of development space, the referendum states. In order for it to pass, two-thirds of shareholders must vote in favor of the sale.

Ascend had initially offered about $19.8 million for the development rights, but the co-op board commissioned a separate appraisal of their value and came back to the table with the higher figure. After a period of negotiation, Ascend agreed on the increased price tag.

The developer also agreed to scale back a portion of the taller tower that would jut over the housing complex's parking garage from 17 feet to 12 feet, the document says.

The president of the Ascend Group did not immediately return a request for comment on the plan.

The developer has teamed up with a local arts group to replace the beloved, decades-old Jewish heritage mural it painted over in December to prepare for the demolition of a neighboring office building to make way for the condo developments. The new mural is meant to showcase the diverse heritage of the Lower East Side neighborhood.

News of the air rights sale was first reported by The Lo-Down.