Chelsea Residents Voice Concerns at Public Forum on $1.5B NYCHA Tear Down

Chelsea News, ALESSIA GIRARDIN, February 13, 2024

Residents of the Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea homes voice concerns over the city plans to tear down and replace their homes with new NYCHAA housing at the cost of over $1 billion. They had their first chance to speak out at a Feb. 1 public scoping meeting. Many at the public forum blasted the proposal. 

Some residents are not sold on the $1.5 billion plan unveiled by the city to tear down and rebuild the Fulton and Elliot NYCHA housing projects in Chelsea and many voiced their concern on Feb. 1 at the first public forum on the project.

“We want to see an alternative to the proposed plan,” said one resident who identified herself only as Roberta and said she has been been a resident for 47 years. “We want refurbishment, not demolition. That means decent housing, not what they are going through now. This is outrageous—every elected official should be in jail for what’s happening to these houses.”

“We request all financing aspects of the project and a comprehensive financial analysis into both the environmental impact statement and any subsequent documents,” Roberta said. “There are no detail project costs for the demolition and rebuilding, so we ask for a comprehensive breakdown to predict an estimate for the cost.”

At the first public scoping meeting, many residents were critical of Mayor Eric Adams and city council member Eric Botcher, who are in support of the plan and want to make the Chelsea model the for other NYCHA projects going forward.

“To Mayor Eric Adams, city council member Eric Botcher, and the progressive caucus, we want to say congratulations on selling out the people of color,” Raul Rivera, who opposes demolition said. “The very people you say you support, you don’t. We say no to the city of yes.” Having NYCHA residents relocate to pay a different rent elsewhere is a big risk.

The two housing projects on 413 W. 17th Street between ninth and tenth Ave. house some 4,500 residents.

The city unveiled a plan in July calling for a private developer to build and administer the project in the public/private partnership rather than having the city itself serving as the landlord. Mayor Adams said that he expects the “Chelsea Plan” will be used for other NYCHA projects going forward. The city’s proposed redevelopment plan will provide replacement housing and community spaces for roughly 4,500 NYCHA residents living in over 2,050 apartments, and up to 3,450 additional mixed-income apartments (of which up to 30 percent will be permanently affordable).

But that has some residents concerned. “The real estate prices run the risk of hypergentrification that could jack up neighborhood housing cost and displace low-income minority residents,” an architect, who identified himself only as David said.

A story in Chelsea News on July 26, 2023 said that many of the residents were not aware what they when presented with a survey from the city. The city, when it unveiled the plan said it has surveyed 950 residents representing 30 percent of the residents who overwhelmingly voiced plan for the demolition and rebuild plan. Speaking in Spanish and translated here, 77-year-old Delfena Plasencea told Chelsea News at the time. “They say it was 60 percent people signed, but nobody’s in agreement,” Plasencea, a resident of the building for 49 years said. “They don’t know what they’re signing.”

That caught the attention of the Legal Aid Society, which called for NYCHA to halt its $1.5 billion plan. “This plan is unequivocally not resident-led and is guaranteed to uproot the lives of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, many of whom have resided in the FEC community for generations,” said Lucy Newman, a Legal Aid staff attorney.

Some residents also claim that the money NYCHA estimates to rehab the buildings was far less than the $1 billion plus it will take to tear them down and rebuild them.

“We need a detailed and independently peer-reviewed explanation of how the renovation budgets skyrocketed from $487 million to well over a billion dollars,” David (who did not want to provide last name), an architect said. “Any new environmental impact statement should include a rehabilitation alternative that saves as many existing buildings as possible, and verifies the repair cost. We need a true account of new developments needed to give NYCHA residents homes in any alternative. Anything beyond that is up in the air and open to discussion.”

Read More: Chelsea News