By BOB KAPPSTATTER
That’s the cheer going up at the sprawling Co-op City after a $621.5 million refinancing deal to fix up the aging complex.
The agreement will also assure the state’s largest Mitchell-Lama development, opened in 1968 and home to 55,000 residents, will remain affordable for 35 more years.
The refinancing deal was announced jointly on Wednesday by Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Wells Fargo Bank.
Under its terms, the feds, state and city will jointly insure the mortgage loan made by Wells Fargo Bank, which will refinance Co-op City’s existing debt at historically low interest rates.
“Keeping Co-op City affordable and viable is great news not just for current tenants but for thousands of Bronx residents who need affordable housing options,” said Bloomberg.
He noted that the city’s New Housing Marketplace Plan has a goal of financing the the creation and preservation of 165,000 affordable housing units by the end of 2014.
“If it were an actual incorporated city, Co-op City would be the twelfth largest in our state,” Cuomo said in a statement, “and so it is hard to exaggerate the critical role it has played for over 40 years in keeping housing in New York State and New York City affordable.”
Alan Wiener, managing director of Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, noted that with current historically low interest rates, “our refinancing of its current debt will save Co-op City and its residents more than $150 million over the 14 year remaining term of the current loan and eliminate refinancing risk should interest rates rise.”
Officials said the loan will also allow the complex to complete urgent capital projects now underway, and for the first time provide for additional new reserves to address future capital needs, as well as to fund ongoing maintenance.
The loan to Riverbay Corporation, which controls Co-op City, is the largest ever insured under HUD’s 223(f) program, which protects lenders against loss on mortgage defaults at multi-family rental properties.
It is also the first time the program has been applied to a co-operative development. The Mortgage Insurance Fund of the State of New York Mortgage Agency (MIF/SONYMA, within New York State Homes and Community Renewal, or HCR) and New York City’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) will be providing credit support with $55 million and $15 million coverage of the loan, respectively.
“This new loan will allow Riverbay to continue the work of maintaining and improving our home for many years into the future, stabilize our finances and guarantee affordable housing for generations to come,” said Helen Atkins, president of the Riverbay Board, whose recent vote was the last step in the approval process.
Located in Baychester, Co-op City is spread out over 330 acres along the west bank of the Hutchinson River.
Besides 35 residential structures, the site includes three shopping centers, a 25-acre educational park, eight parking garages, three elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school, a weather station, 14 gymnasiums, two swimming pools, 15 churches, six nursery schools and day care centers, four basketball courts, five baseball diamonds, numerous restaurants, a power plant and a multiplex movie theater.