Harlem Property Deal Raises Questions

A property deal in Harlem is attracting scrutiny over a deed restriction that was lifted for a developer who made a financial contribution to one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's political causes.

The transaction appears to echo a similar deal that involved the sale of a nursing home property in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

In both cases, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services accepted payment for lifting deed restrictions for developers who contributed cash to political causes supported by the mayor.

"Our concern is what was once a city asset is now going to be just a way for a developer to make money," said Barry Weinberg, a member of the community board in the Harlem neighborhood.

The Harlem transaction involves a vacant lot at the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 152nd Street that was owned by the Dance Theater of Harlem. The deed restriction mandated that the property be used only by nonprofit cultural organizations.

Citywide Administrative Services accepted $875,000 in exchange for lifting the restriction.

BRP Companies bought the lot last month for $3.1 million. The developer reportedly donated $10,000 to a Putnam County Democratic Party organization during a time when de Blasio was urging support for Democrats in tight state Senate races.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office are investigating whether the circumstances surrounding such contribution violate election law.

Contact Us