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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eric Bederman (HPD) (212) 863-5176
Christina Sanchez (HDC) (212) 227-2644



HDC Refinancing Keeps Big Six Towers in Mitchell-Lama Program and Funds Rehab of Complex New York City’s New Housing Marketplace Plan – 100,000 Units and Counting

Woodside, New York, May 3, 2010 – Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr and NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero joined the residents of Big Six Towers to celebrate NYC Affordable Housing Day, marking the successful financing of 100,000 affordable homes created or preserved under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP).  Big Six Towers, known as “The Jewel of Woodside,” has provided affordable housing for New York residents for close to half a century and in 2008, the tenant owners of the complex elected to refinance the project with HDC’s Mitchell-Lama Preservation Program, which in exchange for low-cost financing to make necessary repairs, will keep the housing affordable and in the Mitchell-Lama program through 2033.

The NHMP, launched in 2003, was first envisioned as a five-year plan to finance the construction or preservation of 65,000 affordable homes for New Yorkers with a range of incomes and diverse needs. In early 2006 the plan—already viewed as the most ambitious and aggressive in the nation— was expanded to its current form: to enable the creation or preservation 165,000 affordable units by 2014. Since October, 2008 when the global recession began, HPD and HDC have continued to leverage the public and private funding necessary to begin work on nearly 17,000 additional units, outstripping any other city or state effort in the nation and reaching the 100,000 unit benchmark. To date, HPD and HDC have preserved affordability of 28,617 units of Mitchell-Lama housing.

“Developing and preserving affordable housing for the City's middle income families is a critical component of our commitment to create 165,000 units of affordable housing, and keeping Big Six affordable through the next thirty years is a great step forward towards achieving that goal," said Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber.  "Working with the tenants of Big Six, the City will help to maintain and improve the buildings while ensuring that these units remain affordable housing for our police officers, nurses, teachers and public employees and other middle income New Yorkers.”             

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said, “Affordable housing is one of the most critical needs facing the families of Queens.  I applaud HPD and HDC’s combined efforts to preserve one of the crown jewels of Queens, the Big Six.  We continue to work together to replicate these efforts across Queens County to develop and preserve affordable housing for all our residents.”

“The Big Six is a great example of affordable housing that works. It has served as a home to 983 families for 47 years and now, thanks to a restructuring of the mortgage and new financing for capital needs, Big Six is poised to provide affordable housing to families for many years to come, ” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “I commend the Co-op board members and HDC for working together to ensure that this bastion of affordable housing remains a good and affordable home to those that live in it.”

“The capacity to preserve affordability in developments that have benefitted from government assistance in the past, as in the case of Mitchell-Lama developments, is one of the most powerful tools we have in the NHMP,” said HDC President Jahr. “This special ribbon-cutting symbolizes something more than just the preservation of Big Six Towers in the Mitchell-Lama program.  We are also celebrating the preservation of this vibrant community, its working and retired families and local businesses.  The 100,000 unit milestone is about making our communities stable and sustainable.  Big Six was one of the early attempts at this kind of sustainability and her towers will continue to remain a symbol of that dream Through HDC’s Mitchell-Lama Preservation Program, we were able to issue $35 million in bonds to restructure the existing debt and fund over $11 million of needed repairs for the complex. In the end, the most important result was that by doing this, we worked with the tenants to successfully preserve the long-term affordability of nearly 1,000 homes here in Queens.”

“HPD and HDC are working aggressively to expand our existing refinancing and loan programs to take advantage of the weakened state of the real estate market,” said Commissioner Cestero. “The key to our continued success in preserving affordable housing, and the reason we have been able to fund 100,000 new and preserved units, is our ability to work with the market, and not against it. We have a rare opportunity to address the rehabilitation needs of this aging stock by offering the lowest-cost funding available. In addition to moving to encourage Mitchell-Lama developments that bought out of the program during the boom, and are now feeling pressure from taking on too much debt, to refinance with the City—in effect buying back affordability—there are 10,000 more Mitchell-Lama units that have not refinanced and which now need our help.”

Built in 1963 as a city-subsidized Mitchell-Lama cooperative, Big Six Towers is a 983 unit co-op located on Queens Boulevard and 61st Street in the Woodside section of Queens.  It consists of seven 16-story towers, a shopping center and power plant that provides electricity and heat for the residential and commercial spaces.  Like many other Mitchell-Lama developments, Big Six needed major capital improvements to ensure that the facilities can continue to serve its community.  Repairs needed at Big Six included the replacement of windows and patio doors, walkway and parking lot repaving, and extensive repairs to the shopping centers façade. Due to lack of funding prior, these projects had been put on hold. Working with the tenants, HDC stepped in to provide approximately $35 million in bonds through its Mitchell-Lama Preservation Program, to restructure Big Six Towers’ debt and fund over $11 million in capital repairs. In return, the tenants agreed to keep the complex in the Mitchell-Lama program and under a regulatory agreement for an additional 30-year term.

“As residents and shareholders in Big Six Towers since it first opened in 1963, my family and I can personally attest to its value to us and our surrounding Queens’ communities,” said Edwin Bennett, President of the Big Six Board of Directors. “It is self-evident to the fortunate families here that the economic and social stability that comes with being a shareholder here is beyond measure and that the presence of Big Six only adds to the economic and social stability of our area as a whole.”

Douglas Elliman Property Management has been the Big Six Board of Directors partner in maintaining affordable housing for many years,” said James V. O’Connor, President of Douglass Elliman Property Management. “We have provided the management expertise in order to assist the board in refinancing the mortgage and implementing the capital work that was funded.  We look forward to a long-term relationship with the Big Six Towers in maintaining the goals of affordable housing for the Board of Directors and the Shareholders.”

The Big Six community avoided a move to an open market model, which would have caused a dramatic increase in maintenance charges to generate income needed for operations and repairs. The residents of Big Six now have a secure future as affordable housing, and work is underway to replace the 47-year-old windows and make crumbled walkways and parking lots safe again for senior citizens.

To celebrate NYC Affordable Housing Day and the 100,000 unit benchmark, HPD Commissioner Cestero and HDC President Jahr participated in an event in each of the five boroughs designed to highlight the diverse programs in the NHMP and the different types of housing developed or preserved. They started the day at True Colors, a Supportive Housing project currently under construction at 269 W 154th St in Manhattan that is the first facility of its kind designed to house gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths; and travelled from there to Via Verde. Subsequent events include a ribbon cutting at Big Six at 59-55 47th Ave, in Woodside Queens, a nearly 900-unit Mitchell-Lama co-operative that opted to commit to another 30 years of affordability in return for low-cost mortgage refinancing through the HDC Mitchell-Lama  Preservation Program; and a community celebration honoring developers, housing advocates and tenants in East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn at Riverdale-Osborne (424 Watkins Street), a former HUD multifamily complex purchased and renovated by CPC Resources and John Lenkenau and Demetrious Moragianis with funding from HPD, CPC, the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal and NYSERDA.  The final stop of the day was Markham Gardens, a newly constructed mixed income townhouse community with both rental and homeowner units built at 70 North Burgher Avenue on a site formerly owned by the New York City Housing Authority.



About Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan:

New York City’s affordable housing program to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing — enough to house half a million New Yorkers — is the most ambitious and productive in the nation—creating housing as well as jobs for New Yorkers. In April, 2010 the City reached the critical benchmark of 100,000 units financed—representing an investment of $4.5 billion to date by the City, not including roughly $5 billion in bonds issued by HDC.

Led by HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, the Plan has been recast to maintain production momentum while confronting head on the economic challenges facing the City, the State, the housing industry, the financial sector and individual New Yorkers and their families. In order to fulfill the NHMP goal of 165,000 units, HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are responding to market realities and focusing on three primary goals: strengthening neighborhoods, expanding the supply of affordable and sustainable housing and stabilizing families by keeping them in their homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit

About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation or 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, nearly 100,000 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit

About the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC):

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) provides financing for the creation and preservation of multi-family affordable housing throughout the five boroughs of New York City. HDC’s programs are designed to meet the wide range of affordable housing needs of the City's economically diverse population. In partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HDC works to finance Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace plan to create of preserve 165,000 affordable housing units by 2014. Since the plan launched in 2004, HDC financed more than 44,000 homes for low- , moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers. The New York City Housing Development Corporation is rated AA by S&P and Aa2 by Moody’s and is the nation’s #1 issuer of multi-family bonds.

About Big Six, Inc.:

Big Six Towers, Inc. is a residential cooperative housing corporation per Section 216 (b)(1) of the Internal Revenue code.  The Cooperative was sponsored by the Local 6 of the New York Typographers Union and opened as Cooperative Housing in 1963. It is supervised under the Mitchell-Lama Program.  The Board was established with the primary purpose of maintaining the economic sustainability of the development and setting policy for operational matters.  The Board consists of consist of nine members elected from current shareholders.

About Douglas Elliman Property Management:

Douglas Elliman Property Management is the largest professional property management company in New York City. Through the Affordable Housing Division Douglas Elliman Property Management manages over 8,000 units of affordable housing. The affordable housing programs that Douglas Elliman manages are Mitchell-Lama Cooperative Housing and HUD Senior and Rental Housing. Douglas Elliman has been called upon by the NYCHPD to manage housing companies that HPD has taken over because of mismanagement problems and has established a reputation in this field.

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