Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From row house to rooming house

From the NY Times:

OVER the last decade, the image of Harlem as a place of vacant brownstones and broken-down rooming houses has faded, as many buildings have been turned into apartments and single-family homes.

But now Stanley McIntosh and his wife, Rosalinda Cooper, who live in the restored brownstone on West 132nd Street that he grew up in, are worried that the old days might be returning: A developer, caught short by the plunging real estate market, is converting a nearby 18-foot-wide brick row house back into a rooming house.

Mr. McIntosh, the president of the Neighbors United of West 132nd Street Block Association, has begun a campaign against the rooming house. The developer, Gerald Migdol, said that the rooming house was legal, and would provide needed housing “for the working poor and working lower-middle-class people who couldn’t afford a market-rate one- or two-bedroom.” He confirmed that the Department of Buildings was reviewing the permit.

Plans for the house, at 228 West 132nd Street near Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, show eight single-room-occupancy units, each one about 150 square feet, with bathrooms but not kitchens, on the second and third floors. A ninth single room will be in the basement, along with a two-bedroom apartment. The parlor floor will house a two-bedroom apartment and a communal kitchen.

Last year, Mr. Migdol filed new plans showing the rooming house units. He says that the city no longer permits residential property owners to create rooming houses, but that they can restore rooming-house units previously on the property. The window partition has been removed.

Mr. Migdol said he hoped to rent to veterans and the elderly. But city officials note that the homeless, people displaced from their homes and victims of domestic violence get preference for the vouchers. The property awaits a certificate of occupancy, Mr. Migdol said, though building records show a stop-work order on it.

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