The developer of a luxury building in Brooklyn was having difficulty selling off his condos in an economic downturn, so he's partnered with the city to turn his vacancies into homeless shelters, leaving residents who actually bought their units livid.
The condo units in the Crown Heights area building feature granite countertops, marble bathrooms, walk-in closets, outdoor spaces, just about everything a person living in this city would want in a dwelling. Except, of course, homeless people living in the unit next door.
Luxury brokerage firm HQ Marketing Partners started promoting the condos last summer - with the hook that buyers could custom design the units.
When the market started to tank in the fall - and his gamble on a fringe neighborhood didn't pay off - developer Avi Shriki said he had to come up with a Plan B.
"When the market went south, we knew we had to do something different," said Shriki, 44. "With the market being the way it is you have to be creative."
This spring, Shriki signed a 10-year contract with the Bushwick Economic Development Group to turn the building into a homeless shelter.
The city is paying Bushwick Economic Development Corp. $90 a night for each of the apartments, about $2,700 a month - a figure that also covers social services, housing help and job counseling designed to get families back on their feet.
The neighbors who paid market rates for their homes in the development who now find themselves having homeless people for neighbors are not very happy about all of this, though the homeless who hit the jackpot with the sweet pads are quite pleased.
"It's like a hotel. It's the nicest place I've ever lived in," said Nelson Delgado, 36, who moved into a swanky two-bedroom, two-bath pad two weeks ago.
"It's beautiful," added Delgado, an out-of-work truck driver from Miami who's living with his son Jeff, 17. "The closet in the main room is so big you could put a twin bed in there."
Now, their is certainly something heartwarming about this story, what with a number of down on their luck people being provided shelter in apartments which are way beyond their means, but on the flip side, if we'd paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a condo in this building only to see the developer strike a deal with the city to give the remaining units to the homeless, we might be a little upset.