Kingsbridge community and CB 8 members contend that a developer misled them about a new building that’s going to be opened as a homeless shelter.
Charles Moerdler, CB 8 Land Use Committee chairman, said the board is finalizing work on a letter to the NYC Department of Investigation requesting the agency look into whether developer Stagg Group misled the board when requesting the board’s approval of 421-a tax abatements on a Broadway building in January.
The building at 5731 Broadway was being marketed as moderate-income housing, but Stagg Group changed its plans after receiving the abatements.
When news broke recently that the brand new seven-story building was going to become a homeless shelter, it prompted outrage among community and elected officials in Kingsbridge.
The approximately 90-unit homeless shelter will be run by Praxis.
“I asked Stagg whether they were going to turn any of these (apartments) into homeless shelters after they get tax relief, and they said ‘no, its never going to happen,’ “said Moerdler, adding “The board unanimously voted (at a recent hearing) to refer the matter to the Department of Investigation.”
Since the community board is a city agency, DOI could determine whether or not they were misled, he said, adding that the board approved the abatements.
Mark Stagg of the Stagg Group said he changed direction with the project six or seven weeks ago.
“I really quite honestly think it is a real stretch and it is preposterous that as a private developer that we cannot change direction to meet a certain need, said Stagg of a possible DOI probe.
According to Stagg, he had intended to develop market-rate housing at 5731 Broadway but plans changed with the de Blasio administration’s efforts to house homeless families.
“Based on the mayor’s agenda, based on the timing, and based on what communities across New York City should do, I felt this was the right thing to do,” said Stagg, who added that all community boards should take part in housing the homeless.
Stagg said that in terms of profit, the difference between housing the homeless and building market-rate housing is not that substantial, though he didn’t provide specifics.
He called himself a developer with a conscious.
Dinowitz said that the Stagg Group is not a charity.
“Stagg Group has a long history of playing fast and loose with informing the community about how their developments will be used,” said Dinowitz. “Praxis said they were approached by Stagg Group in April of this year, and that is ample time to let the community know that there is a potential change in plans for the space.”
The assemblyman said CB 8 has taken an appropriate action with the DOI referral, and believes that in the future it will be difficult for community boards to take Stagg at its word.
“Stagg Group told Community Board 8 that this would be market-rate housing,” said Dinowitz. “Either they lied from the beginning, or they changed their mind and subsequently lied by omission.”
Councilman Andrew Cohen concurred and said “it’s indisputable that Community Board 8 and the community were misled.”