Saturday, November 19, 2011

Future Bright For Bronx Hip-Hop Birthplace As Housing Group Takes Over F'closed 102-Unit Complex Victimized By Wall Street/Predatory Equity 'Geniuses'

In The Bronx, New York, The New York Times reports:

  • After a long struggle, ownership of a Bronx building known as the birthplace of hip-hop, which had fallen into neglect and foreclosure, was taken over on Monday by a group that specializes in preserving working-class housing.

  • The building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Morris Heights neighborhood was, in the early 1970s, the home of D.J. Kool Herc, whose community room parties were pivotal to the early development of hip-hop.

  • But in recent years, the 102-unit complex had become a symbol for aggressive investment practices and property neglect, so much so that Senator Charles E. Schumer recently called it “the birthplace of predatory equity.” It was sold in 2008 before the real estate bubble burst to a real estate group that defaulted on the building’s mortgage within two years. The building fell into disrepair and foreclosure.

  • On Monday, Workforce Housing Advisors, a group focused on salvaging working-class housing in buildings that have been overleveraged, became the building’s owner. In 2010, it bought the building’s mortgage for $6.2 million, with help from the city, and because no bidders came forward on Monday, it will keep the building. A bid of at least $7.9 million at the auction would have been required for another party to take control.

  • Several residents, accompanied by an advocacy group that supported them through a long struggle, were at State Supreme Court in the Bronx on Monday and broke into cheers and “hallelujahs” when the auctioneer announced that no bidders had registered.

  • Geraldine Davis, 72, a resident of the building for 37 years, hugged her neighbors and dried a few tears. “I always thought positive,” she said. “We prayed so hard and worked so much to save this building.”

For more, see For Birthplace of Hip-Hop, New Life.

See also Crain's New York Business: Sold! Birthplace of hip-hop beats the rap (A Bronx building famed for its role in the origins of the musical phenomenon escapes the clutches of a “predatory equity” scourge that tenants feared would lead to its demise).

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