The Manhattan Housing Authority and National Church Residences are looking into potential partners for public housing redevelopment in Downtown Manhattan.

The two organizations are considering possibilities for the Carlson Plaza Building at 425 Pierre Street, of which inspections identified the presence of asbestos and mold due to poor ventilation that allows humidity to be trapped.

“It’s had a lot of deferred maintenance,” says MHA Executive Director Aaron Estabrook, now a year into the job. “Right now in our country, there’s money going into housing preservation and we need it.”

Inspection also highlighted the poor accessibility of the vast majority of Carlson Plaza units, with only 3 of the building’s 47 units being ADA accessible. The structure’s condition led MHA to consider redevelopment in conjunction with NCR, which owns the nearby Colorado Plaza public housing building.

“We want to preserve affordable housing,” says Estabrook. “If it’s federally subsidized housing, whatever we need to do to preserve safe, dignified, affordable housing in our community.”

MHA Commissioner Brad Claussen says they’ve opened up a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from interested co-developers considering joining them in the work, and says an interview with a potential partner has already occurred and the MHA Board could vote to move forward with a deal as soon as next week.

“Between National Church Residences, the Manhattan Housing Authority, and a potential co-developer we’ll bring in, we are looking at [the]potential for a nice, new project down there.”

The cost of needed upgrades and repairs has led MHA to consider the possibility of fully replacing the structure with a new 150-unit building in its place.

“We’ve looked at the potential to repair that building,” says Claussen. “But when the cost of repair starts to exceed the value of the building, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to go down that avenue and pump money into something that you’re going to continue to have to [do that.]”

He says not only would a new structure have a cheaper go at maintenance and upkeep, but new technology and building systems will make that work easier and also offer the possibility for greater savings on energy costs by employing modern technology and design features.

No additional updates were given on the planning and scope of the project or a potential partnership. Estabrook previously noted that energy savings amounting to $750,000 resulting from past renovation of MHA’s Apartment Towers are on hand to be applied to the new building should plans become concrete.

Estabrook says the location is also an important feature of the project, emphasizing the importance of having public housing options near the walkable Downtown district.

“It’s really important to all of us that we preserve a space in that area for elderly, disabled, and low income housing,” says Estabrook.

He says initial discussions with the city on potential ways to support the project have taken place, and that a Planned Unit Development already exists in the area.

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