KINGSBRIDGE, the Bronx — It got permits to be built as a market-rate apartment building, but now it's set to open in a few weeks as a homeless shelter.
Angry local residents and elected officials call it a bait-and-switch by the developer and the de Blasio Administration. The developer, the Stagg Group, has two other Bronx buildings. One of those other buildings was also permitted for construction as rental apartments, but is also set to open as a homeless shelter.
Residents are calling on the mayor to prevent prevent it from happening again.
The first development, an 81-unit building on Broadway near 236th Street, received permits to construct the building as rental apartments. They were supposed to be leased at a market rate of about $1,800 for a 1-bedroom. About a month ago, Stagg, with major assistance from its consultant, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, announced that the building at 5731 Broadway would be a homeless shelter.
Ever since, residents across the central and northern parts of the Bronx have been upset.
"No more lies! No more lies!" a group of about a dozen-and-a-half residents shouted at a press conference Monday morning.
They were standing in front of another Stagg Group building, on White Plains Road in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx. The leader of the protest, City Councilmember Andy King, said that Mayor de Blasio and Stagg Group forced the public outcry.
"You decided not to make it a market-rate building," King said, referring to the developer and the mayor. "You decided to make it 80-20, with 80 percent [of the apartments in the building] from social services."
The city has confirmed that at least 80 percent of the residents in the building at which the protest was held receive benefits from the city's Human Resources Administration. However, the building, at 3677 White Plains Road, "is permanent, affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers," said Isaac McGinn, spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services in a statement. "The community was notified about this housing nearly a year ago before these tenants first moved in."
However, the councilmember and some neighbors told PIX11 News, some permanent residents moved in a year ago and residents in the community were only told about the affordable housing just before the move happened. Many residents didn't realize the nature of the building until after its tenants were already in place, according to Councilmember King.
Once residents did move in, he said, "I'm walking around this community, and when I'm at the grocery store, when I'm in my driveway, when I'm on the street, I keep getting all these complaints [from residents saying], 'What's going on in my neighborhood?'"
He said that the White Plains Road building's situation is a cautionary tale for the as-yet-unopened building on Broadway that's now slated to become a homeless shelter.
Margaret Donato lives next door to that building, in a sprawling high-rise, and is a member of the local community board.
"Our seniors are frightened at this point," she told PIX11 News, "We have a large senior community. It's not right."
For its part, developer Stagg Group issued a statement. "When that that the building has only . As we address the dual citywide challenges of homelessness and affordability, which impact every community across the five boroughs, we are proud to deliver high quality, affordable housing for formerly homeless families.”