Where No One Thought Gentrification Would Go

It’s the End of the Bloomberg Era and Luxury Towers Are Rising in the Projects

Story by Ben Adler

Photography by Alan Chin

Published on Sep 3, 2013

In February, the New York City Housing Authority announced a plan to lease space in the footprint of eight Manhattan housing projects to real estate developers. That high-income renters would seek apartments not only next to, but inside places like the Lower East Side’s Alfred E. Smith Houses was unthinkable two decades ago. But the squeeze of New York gentrification, not to mention the failures of the towers-in-the-park design model for public housing, has made NYCHA’s open space the next logical target for market-rate housing. Proponents point to the NYCHA’s need for operating capital, the city’s need for more housing and the potential to create mixed-income neighborhoods as reasons for building. NYCHA tenants, however, have fears ranging from ruined views to outright displacement. New York-based journalist Ben Adler sets out to examine the consequences of developing the projects and understand what the move could mean for affordable housing in the city.