De Blasio Reacts to Rent Reform Fallout, Plans “Serious Conversation” With Blackstone

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Some of the doom predicted in the wake of the rent regulation law passed in June has come to pass, and Mayor Bill de Blasio had an opportunity to say his piece on this week’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

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Blackstone Group, the owner of the massive Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex, said earlier this summer that it would halt renovation projects and keep some of the affordable units vacant, in light of the legislation, according to multiple news reports. 

“That’s something I’m very concerned about,” de Blasio told host Brian Lehrer

Blackstone’s move is especially problematic for de Blasio because in 2015, his administration entered into a deal with the private equity giant to keep 5,000 of the 11,000 units at the complex affordable through 2035, in exchange for $220 million in subsidies. 

“No doubt the law passed in Albany had a lot of elements to it and is having a variety of consequences, but on the other hand, a deal’s a deal,” he said, referencing the 2015 agreement

Keeping the apartments affordable requires them to be available to people, the mayor said. “This is something we’re going to be having serious conversations with that company about, because we want to make sure that that deal is honored.”

“We are renovating and leasing all vacant units, and we will continue to fulfill our commitment to voluntarily preserve 5,000 affordable apartments,” a spokesperson for Blackstone said. “In light of the new legislation, unfortunately, we have to make some difficult choices and scale back certain investments.”

On the broader question of how the regulation might affect the condition of the city’s housing stock, and how it’s already affecting lenders’ willingness to lend on multifamily assets, the mayor was more evasive. 

“We also have to make sure, as with any law, if there are any other effects, expected or unexpected, we have to deal with them,” he said. “All of us want to see buildings kept up well, so this is something we gotta analyze and decide where we go from there.”