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A legal fight may soon erupt over the pending sale of one of the last YMCAs in New York City that offers cheap hotel rooms. With directors of the McBurney YMCA on 23rd Street expected to announce the sale of the building in a matter of weeks, tenant advocates are scrambling to find a way to preserve the rooms where at least 20 tenants still live.

As City Limits reported in July, the YMCA plans to sell the McBurney building to avoid repairs that could cost $15 million. YMCA administrators have declared that October 31 is the deadline for developers to submit proposals to buy the building-and they have promised to deliver it vacant.

At two heated meetings earlier this month, the Y refused advocates’ pleas to extend the deadline. Pamela Bayless, YMCA of Greater New York VP for Communications, says that a delay is out of the question because the Y has good offers it can’t let slip away. A formal “condition of sale”–like one that would preserve the remaining residence rooms–would lower the sale price.

Already, 12 of the 34 long-term residents have moved out. But some residents say they refuse to go, like actor Davidson Garrett, who’s lived at the McBurney for 21 years. “What they are offering for relocation is something I’m not interested in,” said Garrett. “This is home to me.” Garrett pays $450 a month for a single room with no bath or kitchen.

Advocates met Friday to discuss the resident’s legal options under the rent stabilization laws, which protect long-term tenants. Some members of the McBurney Y gym have joined with tenants to oppose the sale. They plan to raise the issue at a membership meeting at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

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