BY SAM SPOKONY | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FEB. 6, 2014 | Two years after a deal that saved many of them hundreds of millions of dollars in ground rent payments, a newly expanded group of Battery Park City condominium owners is now calling on the Battery Park City Authority to negotiate amendments for all of their leases, seeking further stability for the future.
The B.P.C. Homeowners Coalition, after voting at a Jan. 14 meeting, has announced that it now represents all 17 condo buildings in the area, rather than just the original 11 that were part of the 2011 agreement with the state agency.
That previous deal, brokered by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, prevented the ground rents for those 11 buildings from skyrocketing from $9 million in 2011 to a total of $804 million over the next three decades. As a result of the negotiations, the buildings are paying $525 million over that period of time.
The coalition’s goal now ― and recently announced at Community Board 1’s B.P.C. Committee meeting on Feb. 4 ― is to get its six new members under the same kind of agreement, which is desired by condo residents because the uncertainty that goes along with inflated ground rents will negatively affect their ability to sell or even to afford their units in coming years.
The six newly incorporated buildings are 225 Rector Pl., 333 Rector Pl., Millennium Tower (30 West St.), the Ritz-Carlton (10 West St.), the Riverhouse (2 River Terrace) and the Visionaire (70 Little West St.).
“Right now, we have to go back to those new buildings and see how their leases are structured, and we’re just now beginning that research,” said Pat Smith, an organizer of the coalition who resides in Battery Pointe, one of its original 11 members. “We need to get some consistent, defensible formulas in place for everyone.”
Smith seeks to meet with the authority soon to push for the new ground rent negotiations, which he also hopes can lead to a deal that will run through 2069, rather than the endpoint of the previous agreement, which is 2042.
Meanwhile, the authority itself is now in a transitional phase that’s been marked by the appointment of a new president, Shari Hyman, and the addition of Robin Forst ― formerly of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center ― as vice president of external relations.
Forst, a longtime B.P.C. resident active in the community, started her job on Feb. 3, and Hyman will take over on Feb. 10.
“We are certainly willing to engage in a dialogue with the B.P.C. Homeowners Coalition,” said Kevin McCabe, an authority spokesperson, in an email to Downtown Express. “Providing a forum where the group can voice its concerns is important to building and strengthening our community.”
And in an emailed statement on Feb. 5, Silver reiterated a commitment to stay involved in this process as the Coalition moves forward.
“I will continue working on behalf of Battery Park City residents seeking to extend their ground leases at an affordable rate,” the speaker said, “and I will continue to fight for a fair settlement that maintains stability in the neighborhood and keeps families in our community for the long term.”