BROOKLYN, NY-After weeks of concern over Clipper Equity’s ability to keep Starrett City affordable, US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has denied the company’s bid to purchase the middle-income housing complex. Jackson was joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, Attorney General for New York State Cuomo and Congressman EdolphusTowns at a press conference to announce the decision.

Jackson said that after looking at the facts of the deal, visiting the low- to middle-income housing project two weeks ago and failing to see a definite explanation from Clipper on how it plans to keep Starrett City affordable, he has opted to block the $1.3-billion sale.

“We are concerned the sale will rapidly change the Starrett City community. We are concerned it will be dug open, paved and changed. We cannot stand witness to the loss of open space where tenants walk and their children play.” Jackson went on to say, “Starrett City is a community of people, a way of life. The tenants don’t want this transaction and it would be the worst kind of theft to steal all of that from them.”

Clipper’s past violations, weighed heavily against the company. The company owns more than 4,700 apartments in 71 buildings throughout New York City. Cuomo said he gave Jackson a file six inches thick on the potential buyers past and current transgressions and Jackson said that information sealed the deal. Clipper’s past was brought to light immediately after its bid was made public.

Speaker Christine Quinn issued a statement just after Clipper won Starrett City expressing her concerns. “We are very concerned about the track record [Clipper] and the individuals associated with it have on other Brooklyn housing projects, where they have accumulated almost 8,800 open housing violations, including over 1,000 that are considered hazardous.”

Moving forward Jackson and Schumer said the bidding process will be reopened and this time HUD and the Senator plan to monitor the proceedings closely. “The new sale should be an open process so all prospective buyers know all the facts and we are going to do everything we can to make sure Starrett stays a wonderful place,” Schumer said.Jackson said, “The door is not opened the door is actually closed,” to Clipper providing the needed information about keeping Starrett City affordable and maintaining its winning bid. Although Jackson did say that while it seems nearly impossible for Clipper to figure out the logistics of buying the complex for $220,000 per unit, when residents pay $90,000 per unit, and keeping it affordable, he did say it would not be entirely out of the question.

HUD sent a letter to Clipper on Thursday explaining that the deal would be blocked as a result of Clipper’s inability to prove it could keep the 140-acre complex affordable to the more than 5,000 families who reside there. At the time a Clipper spokeswoman said, “We look forward to the opportunity of correcting certain underlying misinformation and to providing the secretary with the appropriate assurances he seeks.” Clipper had no further comment this morning.

The 46-building Starrett City, which is currently owned by Starrett City Associates, was first put up for sale in November. It is considered the largest federally subsidized housing project in the United States. CB Richard Ellis’ Darcy Stacom and William Shanahan brokered the deal, looking over seven bids. The lowest bid for the complex was $600 million, and the bid that took second place was $500 million less than Clipper’s.

Jackson will be in Starrett City today to celebrate the blocking of the sale with area residents.

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