Condominium Conversions Alter the Social Fabric of Manhattan

Josh Barbanel of The New York Times catches up with the rising tide of condominium conversions in Manhattan.

It is one of more than 60 pending condominium conversion projects in Manhattan listed by the New York State attorney general’s office, involving more than 7,000 condominium units.
These projects, the first large wave of condominium conversions in New York in 20 years, are cutting into the supply of rental apartments, driving rents higher, and ushering in a wrenching period of uncertainty for many existing tenants.
In the 1980’s, tenants facing condo conversion banded together and negotiated large discounts from developers on the sale prices of their individual apartments, and became condo owners.
But now, with rent stabilization laws weakened, landlords are taking a tougher stand, evicting market-rate tenants and offering only tiny discounts on the sale prices to rent-stabilized tenants, who are allowed to continue renting after a conversion.

The buildings described in the article have fairly high rents. Someone who is already paying $4,000 or more per month will likely be able to find somewhere in Manhattan to live. But I worry about all those people whe are paying $650 a month right now.
Sometimes it seems like Manhattan is on its way to becoming an island for the super wealthy, which has ramifications far beyond just the real estate market.
For instance, where are the civil servants going to live? And where are the teachers going to live? And where are police and firefighters going to live? I have no idea. I think they almost all live in the outer boroughs already.
But, as someone who once planned to be an elementary school principal, and has a degree in education, I can’t help but think of things from a teacher’s point of view. And it’s kind of sad.
It’s certainly good for neighborhoods like Harlem and the financial district that all this money is flowing there, but it’s unfortunate that they can’t find a way to strike a balance, and they can’t kind find a way for the teachers–who are busting their humps teaching our kids–to live in the same communities with our kids, and not have to commute an hour and a half from Sheepshead Bay or something.

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