Elected Officials Back Independence Plaza Tenants in Court Case

 

Independence Plaza North tenants and their supporters rallied against the state's mid-level court decision in Denza.  The court ruled that as soon as an owner takes a building out of Mitchell-Lama or a similar program, any J-51 tax benefits end along with the tenants' J-51 stabilized rents.  The tenants are seeking permission from New York State's highest court to appeal.

Tribeca Trib
Elected Officials Back Independence Plaza Tenants in Court Case
Elected officials joined a gathering of Independence Plaza tenants outside the complex in a display of support for the tenants' legal case.
CARL GLASSMAN / TRIBECA TRIB
Elected officials joined a gathering of Independence Plaza tenants outside the complex in a display of support for the tenants' legal case.
Downtown elected officials are throwing their political weight behind the Independence Plaza North Tenant Association in its protracted legal fight with the landlord of the 1,331-unit Tribeca complex.

On Thursday, the officials stood with tenant leaders and about 100 IPN tenants in a show of support for their effort to reverse a recent court decision against the tenant group.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, state Senators Daniel Squadron and Tom Duane, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin joined the tenants outside one of the three IPN towers.

In response to the April 3 decision by the state's appellate division court, tenant leaders want to convince the state's highest court to hear their appeal in a case that they had hoped would bring all tenants in the complex under the state's rent stabilization laws. They argue that the landlord’s acceptance of tax benefits after exiting from Mitchell-Lama, a state-subsidized housing program, required that the apartments in the complex be rent regulated.

"You can't move the goalpost in the middle of the game," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "You have to play by the rules."

IPN, now renting apartments a luxury housing, was under Mitchell-Lama for nearly 30 years. After its owner, Laurence Gluck of Stellar Management, removed the complex from the program in 2004, the Department of Finance continued to grant him J-51 tax benefits for two years. The tenants maintain that as a result the development should revert to rent stabilization because, according to city law, landlords who enjoy J-51 tax benefits must give their tenants rent regulation.

"A tax credit is not a benefit for just one side of the ledger and not for the other…" said state Sen. Daniel Squadron. "When you get the tax break you are committed to the affordability. Period."