Knickerbocker Village Tenants Rally to Stop Sale to L+M Development

Posted on: March 23rd, 2022 at 5:01 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

Exactly one year ago, we broke the news that Knickerbocker Village on the Lower East Side was exploring a potential sale to L+M Development Partners.

Hundreds of Knickerbocker tenants fear what this possible sale spells for the residential complex, and are holding a press conference later today to demand the Division of Housing and Community Resources stop the deal. According to a recent statement from the organized group, concerned residents fear that L+M, if successful in the purchase, will try to displace low-income tenants in favor of wealthier renters; and that the sale will undermine Knickerbocker’s Article IV protections, which help maintain the bastion of affordability. (They’ve collected 800 signatures in opposition over the last few weeks.)

Knickerbocker Village, the sprawling campus of twelve 13-story buildings, has long been the most affordable housing option in the Chinatown area. Several years ago, management reportedly explored the idea of conversion to co-op, a move which yielded fierce opposition and concerns of potential real estate speculation. However, that proposal was eventually squashed when New York State intervened and ordered the potential buyers at the time to cease and desist. Then, in 2019, City Council passed a bill that keeps the complex affordable for the next fifty years in exchange for an annual tax abatement of $3 million.

This latest deal-in-the-making comes on the heels of L+M selling its stake in another Two Bridges housing complex – Lands End II – for a collective $435 million.

Update per L+M: “We have appreciated the opportunity to engage productively with Knickerbocker Village residents over the last year about our plans to preserve the entire complex as permanently affordable rental housing under HCR supervision as an Article IV, eliminate large and unpredictable rent increases and provide urgently needed capital improvements. The Tenants Association has provided thoughtful feedback throughout our discussions and we are looking forward to continuing to hear from them and work closely with all Knickerbocker Village residents and local elected officials to ensure a smooth transition and critically needed rent stability for many years to come.”

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