The Prince George has not succumbed to the pressures of the real estate market
The Prince George, an affordable housing facility (formerly a welfare hotel) near Madison Square Park, has had quite the tumultuous history. Its latest step forward however is a positive one. Instead of succumbing to the pressures of the prime real estate market its located in, the management at Prince George, affordable housing organization Breaking Ground, has worked out a deal with the city to maintain the space for its low-income tenants, the New York Times reports.
Brenda Rosen, the chief executive at Breaking Ground, told The Times that her organization regularly received calls to purchase the building, which is located at 14 East 28th Street, and repeatedly, she has declined.
Instead, Breaking Ground will now sell the air rights, about 372,000 square feet of them, to different developers working on different projects, in a deal that was approved by the city.
With the funds that generates, Breaking Ground will be able to maintain the building’s 416 apartments for low-income tenants, homeless people, and people living with HIV/AIDS. For the city, it will count towards Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge of creating or maintaining 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years.
The funds will also allow the organization to carry out several repair and maintenance projects on the Prince George. The facade, the elevator, and the roof all need work. And there’s a need for a new emergency generator.
The Prince George became the building it is today after Breaking Ground took over the space in 1996, six years after it had been abandoned. After a $40 million renovation, it was ready for use. As was the building’s massive ballroom, which is now frequently rented out to tv shows like Madam Secretary and The Real Housewives of New York City, according to The Times, which in turn also generates income for Breaking Ground.
When stories of the Rivington House sale, and the murky dealings surrounding it constantly do the rounds, the Prince George seems to serve as a pointer of something done right. That the building has survived so far is remarkable in its own right.
By the 1980s, the building had become the city’s largest welfare hotel and homeless shelter, and maybe even the country’s, according to the Times. Hundreds of residents were crammed into the apartments. There were also reports of high crime on the street, and many blamed it for the decline of the surrounding neighborhood. It was shut in 1990, following the closure of several other welfare hotels across the city. It remained empty for the following years until Breaking Ground decided to take it over and put it to good use.