NY Times article re: Southbridge leaves Mitchell-Lama

Click here for NY Times Article

My Letter to the Editor:

Your article “Divided by a Windfall” in the on November 16 Real Estate section seems to call out the pro-privatization co-operators of Southbridge Towers as profiteers getting a windfall at the cost of affordable housing. What your article neglects to mention is that going private is the natural, planned evolution of a Mitchell-Lama co-op. The law under which the Mitchell-Lama program was created gives the right for Mitchell-Lama co-ops to buy their way out of the program after 30-40 years. The reason for this is that it was understood that buildings of a certain age start to require expensive repairs and the low maintenance scenario no longer works if the building is to be self-sustaining. If buildings stay in the program, the residents will become subject to steep assessments for repairs like new windows, roofs, major repairs, etc. or the building will become derelict.  An example of this is Co-Op City in the Bronx where the garage has crumbled and been closed for years since they do not have money to make the repairs. With the crisis of revenues for local and state governments, the governmental agencies that oversee the Mitchell-Lama properties no longer have funds to make low-interest loans to buildings that cannot afford their own major repairs.

The intent of the brilliantly conceived Mitchell-Lama program in the ’50s was that the monies received by the government agency from Mitchell Lama co-ops that buy out of the program is supposed to be used to build new Mitchell Lama projects and thus keep new, self-sustaining affordable housing stock coming into the market. This has never happened. Buildings going private also contribute more to the tax base as they no longer are eligible for tax breaks.

Buildings buying out of the M-L program impose flip taxes on the first sale of a unit of anywhere from 30 to 45%. These funds go to the co-op and are used for repairs and to keep maintenance reasonable.

Forcing Mitchell-Lama co-ops to stay in the program will result in buildings that cannot do necessary repairs and that eventually will become eye-sores or crumble into the ground. Residents that think that their low maintenance will continue in a building that stays in the Mitchell-Lama program past the sell-by date will face huge assessments to make necessary repairs to an aging property.

The choice to leave a Mitchell-Lama program is a right that was guaranteed by law. Politicians blocking buildings from exercising their right in the name of affordable housing are denying people their legal right. If these politicians want to support affordable housing, they should comply with the Mitchell-Lama plan, encourage buildings to follow the natural evolution of buying-out of the program and use the funds to build new Mitchell-Lama projects as was the intention of the plan. These same politicians should also not let every 6 story, rent-stabilized building in Manhattan be knocked down by greedy real estate developers to put up luxury, high-rises that no one can afford except wealthy foreigners. The tenants of the few remaining Mitchell-Lama co-ops should not bare the brunt of the city’s failure to maintain affordable housing stock.

Insurance and Obstructionists

Once again, a group who I have to assume is associated with the Anti’s is obstructing the work of the board and fighting anything that will benefit East Midtown Plaza.

I was not a fan of the board’s amendment to force cooperators to have property and liability insurance due to the additional costs to be borne by the cooperator. Upon gathering information, I realized that this action, although sure to be unpopular is beneficial to East Midtown Plaza and cooperators. The original Occupancy agreement states that the cooperator is responsible for water damage. This means that if there is a fire and the fire departments comes and sprays gallons of water in your apartment or an adjoining apartment, the water storage tank on the leaf breaches or one of our 40+ year old steel pipes springs a leak, the tenant may be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. Without adequate property insurance, this will come out of the cooperators pocket! Forcing the cooperator to have insurance in place will also prevent the cooperator from coming after EMP for these repairs thus saving our co-op time and money to defend lawsuits.
Additionally, forcing the cooperators to have liability insurance will probably reduce EMP’s insurance premiums.

All good, right?

But once again the obstructionists have found a lawyer to comment on what they claim the board has improperly done and probably will file a suit against EMP. Every year at the EMP annual meeting, one or more of the anti’s gets up and complains about the high legal expenses. Don’t they get it that if the anti’s didn’t fight everything the Board does or the overwhelming majority of your neighbors want, EMP would not incur huge legal bills to defend the suits the obstructionists bring?

There will always be dissenting opinions on any decision. If a small minority fights every decision the majority-elected board decides on, the only result will be nothing getting accomplished.

2013 EMP Election Independent Analysis

Once again the ‘Pro’ Candidates win in a landslide. The ‘PRO’ candidates got 1,099 (74.4%) vs. 379 (25.6%) for ‘ANTI’ candidates (see following post for detailed results).

It would appear that this is a strong mandate for our newly minted Board to re-open the pursuit of privatization!

Jeanne Poindexter, the figurehead/spokesperson for the ANTI’s got 145 votes, lower than her average of 179 the last 6 times she has ran since 2006 and way below her high of 261 in 2006.

Great showing by newcomer Mala Mosher with 300 votes. Since 2005, the highest number of votes for any candidate was for Alan Rosof in 2008 with 373 followed closely by Jerry Fox, also in 2008 with 372.

2013 EMP Election Results (Unofficial)

Election of the Board of Directors (5):
Mala Mosher 300
Steven Goldstein 285
Janice Kabel 273
Mark Andermanis 270
Larry Weiner 271
Jeanne Poindexter 145
Aaron Olivo 125
Helen Krackow 135
Vincent DeMarco 109

First Sale Capital Assessment
For 273
Against 132

Total Proxies: 264
Machine Votes: 159


EMPTCA Recommendations for December 2013 Vote

Email from EMP Tenant-Cooperator Association 12/1/2013

Dear EMP neighbor:

As we have every year, we will soon mail you a proxy . . . along with recommendations, instructions and an envelope for you to mail the proxy back to EMP. If you are away and would like us to email a proxy to you, please let us know.

Here’s a summary of the info you’ll receive:


 We have an exceptional Board of Directors:

  •  EMP is safe, secure and well-maintained.
  • We have new windows, new elevators and much, much more.
  • Roof replacement and plaza reconstruction programs are underway.
  • 10 of our 11 stores are rented — at very good rents.
  • If we attempt to go private again, these Board members will support it.

                  We urge you to re-elect ALL FIVE

  • Mark Andermanis
  • Steven Goldstein
  • Janice Kabel
  • Mala Mosher
  • Larry Weiner

One other issue: Vote FOR the resolution to increase the purchase price of our apartments. The increase will pay for major projects and help keep our maintenance low. This charge will only affect people buying new apartments.

Vote FOR the resolution. It’s really good for EMP.

 The 300+ members of the East Midtown Plaza Tenant-Cooperator Association

Questions or comments? Email emptca@aol.com

Vercesi Hardware to close

An old-time neighborhood standby, Vercesi Hardware is closing at the end of November. The history of the store which was opened by Paul Vercesi as a sheet music store in 1912 can be seen at http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2013/10/vercesi-hardware.html

The store became known as 23rd Street Hardware after the owner retired several years ago. 23st_hw-noteThe building was sold, will be demolished and turned into yet another luxury high-rise.

We have discovered that the The Xavier Society for the Blind in the adjoining building will be relocating and that building will be knocked down as well.

It is odd that every politico that has jurisdiction over EMP stopped us from going private in the name of ‘Affordable Housing’ yet they let thousands of 5-6 story building that people can afford to live in be knocked down by wealthy developers to be replaced by expensive condos. Why is it that EMP’s 750 apartments are the only answer to affordable housing? How about standing up to rich developers?




Anti’s slur on the memory of Jerry Fox

The hard-working and well liked President of our Board of Directors passed away tragically and unexpectedly 2 weeks ago. It didn’t take the Anti’s long to get out a memo referring to several events occurring recently as an opportunity to elect a board with new Directors that wouldn’t be the same, entrenched, people and to elect those who would not turn us backward and be fiscally responsible.

Jerry loved and worked very hard for EMP and put a great deal of his time and effort doing what he thought was right for EMP, doing what 2/3’s of the shareholder wanted and trying to keep EMP from becoming a dilapidated mess!

Whatever you opinion on privatization, be it misguided or not, have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!

You anti’s should be ashamed of yourselves!



Bob Gordon

It was with great sorrow and sadness that we report the passing of Bob Gordon. Bob was an original co-operator at EMP and the first co-operator  President of the EMP Board of Directors.

Bob loved EMP and put a great deal of his time and effort into EMP. He was an early proponent of and strong supporter of privatization.



Privatization bid rejected by NY Court of Appeals

In a 6-0 decision the NYS Court of Appeals ruled against EMP in it’s bid for privatization. The court ruled that:

  1. The privatization vote must be by apartments, and
  2. The Attorney General has the right to use the Martin Act for privatization issues.