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IPNTA/Elected Officials Press Conference re: J-51 tax abatement. Videography by Cal Koury

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Published on Oct 10, 2012

The residents of Independence Plaza were the majority of pioneers who helped create a viable and now truly desirable neighborhood. Moving in when it was called Washington Market during the mid seventies, they proceeded to put their energy into taking an abandoned part of Manhattan into a functioning community. Helping to build schools, pave streets, obtain a supermarket (took 8 years before the entire community had a supermarket!), parks and virtually most of what you see when entering Tribeca, they
never gave up. Now that this community is so cherished by thousands, many have already lost their apartments already. New York City owes a debt of gratitude to these residents - the "worker ants" who put their hearts and souls into their community. In 2006, they discovered that the property had a J-51 tax abatement since 1998 but non of the residents were aware of it. That tax abatement promised that if the property was removed from the Mitchell Lama program, each apartment would be rent stabilized for the life of the tax abatement. If the tenants were not notified, within their leases, each apartment would be rent stabilized for the length of time the tenants resided in their apartments as would their heirs. However, the landlord and new landlord ignored this protection and never informed the tenants of the J-51 until the tenants association asked about it upon discovery. Because the new owner of IPN refused to discuss the J-51 and denied it's protection, the tenants had no choice but to bring the case before Judge Marcy Friedman in State Supreme Court.

On August 16th a press conference was held by Tribeca's elected officials in support of the tenants request for an appeal with the Court of Appeals in their J-51 case. This case was originally ruled in favor of the tenants in New York State Supreme Court. It was then overturned in the Appellate Division. The decision now potentially negatively impacts about 22,000 residents in New York City. The tenants of IPN believe that they are within their rights based on the laws that govern the J-51 tax abatement and IPN should IS rent stabilized. This belief is shared by all of their elected officials and concerned activist organizations who are dedicated to preserving and creating affordable housing.

It is poor city planning to not provide places for the lower to middle income residents who are the real backbone of New York City to live. It is poor governing to not be concerned about the younger New Yorkers who do not have the ability to live in New York City as was a choice one generation ago. It is a failure to not provide available housing for the secretaries, police, firefighters, teachers, construction workers.... all working class who make sure this continues to be a great city.

Can New York be a great city without it's PEOPLE? No. When that lack of protection not only fails but seems to seep into the very workings of the court system, something is wrong.

This new decision by the Appellate Division must be overturned. The tenants need their request for appeal approved. The J-51, lawfully protecting the IPNTA community, was created for that purpose. Abusing it and manipulating it's very intent is likened to poisoning the well.

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