After 7 years of promising former tenants renovated apartments, the New York City Housing Authority has announced plans to demolish the Prospect Plaza housing complex in Brooklyn, which formerly housed 1,200 low-income New Yorkers.
Prospect Plaza Tenants Association President Milton Bolton thinks now that the city never intended to return tenants to their former homes. Back in November, when NYCHA applied for the demolition permit spokesman Howard Marder said they didn’t plan to use, Bolton told the News, “That means they lied to all the tenants. I believed they would hold up to their word, fix the place up and bring the people back.” The tenants association still meets, although their numbers have dwindled due to discouragement and, Bolton says, the deaths of 40 of the former residents.
Bolton has sort of suspected that something like this was going to happen for a while. He told the Voice three years ago that he saw the decay of Prospect Plaza as a possible way for the city to open up valuable Brooklyn real estate for development. “You look around and you got land. And land is the most important thing in New York. This is big enough for another Atlantic Yards right here.”
NYCHA, on the other hand, says that their issue is cost. Assistant Deputy General Manager for Development Ilene Popkin says that renovating the existing units, which have been allowed to decay badly due to weather and neglect while the development company the city hired tried to find funding, would cost $481,000. She prices starting from scratch at $381,700 per unit.
Supporters of the tenants oppose the plan to demolish the buildings, because they don’t trust that NYCHA is going to create as many public housing units in the new mixed-income development as they’re tearing down (something some tenants believed all along). Agency officials say that former residents and the community will have a role in that decision, which is going to be made by officials of the Bloomberg administration and has to do with real estate in Brooklyn.
Demolition, if it’s approved by HUD, will take place this fall.