In 1974, Waterside Plaza in New York City opened its doors. Located on the East River in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan, it was unlike other housing developments in New York City. The development consists of four 37-story towers built on platforms over the river. Waterside Plaza was the first riverfront affordable housing development that provided a mix of low and middle income housing along with market-rate apartments on the waterfront. It helped pave the way for other mixed income developments throughout New York City.
Securing financing for Waterside Plaza was not easy. It was funded in part by the State of New York’s Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, created in 1955 to facilitate the development of moderate income housing. The program provided developers with low interest loans and tax exemptions in exchange for income restrictions. However, Mitchell-Lama assistance was not sufficient. Banks did not want to provide needed additional conventional financing, because they were uncomfortable with Waterside Plaza’s mixed-income approach.
Richard Ravitch, one of the developers, then turned to Mayor John Lindsay, convincing him to create the New York Housing Development Corporation, still a major source of affordable housing public financing.
Buildings assisted with Mitchell-Lama funds had the option to withdraw from the program after 20 years. Today, most of Waterside Plaza is no longer affordable and tenant associations have formed to deal with the consequences.
NLIHC is recognizing its 40th anniversary throughout 2014, culminating in a commemorative event on Monday, November 17 in Washington, DC. Please save the date.