Luxury Condo Goes Shelter; Homeless, Landlord Happy

When, in her State of the City Address in February, city council speaker Christine Quinn talked about turning the "tarnished trophies of the building boom" -- that is, condos that became unsustainable in the recession -- into affordable housing, we were interested to see how that would work out. So far not much has come of it, probably because luxury landlords -- used to sitting on moribund properties for years to wait for more favorable markets -- aren't eager to sell.

But they can make a pile of money, as other landlords routinely do, by offering their unsold units to the city for use as homeless shelters, and that's what developer Avi Shriki and HQ Marketing Partners are doing with their white elephant luxury condo in Crown Heights, the Daily News reports. As recently as last fall, Shriki was convincing real estate writers that his unique "customizable" units would "Help Real Estate Firm Beat Sluggish Market," etc., but when it became crystal that no one wanted to pay Park Avenue prices for an East New York Avenue address, he took the $2,700 a month per unit the city was offering to house the homeless there. And when the recession's over, he can scrub the place down and go back to demanding big money. (Though you can read him blubbering about his "dream deferred" in a sidebar.)

Expectedly, the new tenants feel as if they've wandered into a fairy tale -- "It's like a hotel. It's the nicest place I've ever lived in." Neighbors and commenters are outraged -- "So, Bloomberg, where is MY Granite counter top???" And luxury landlords all over the city are breathing a sigh of relief: maybe their bailout is coming -- in fact, has been right under their noses all this time.

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