Tenants and landlord play let’s make a deal on McGuinness

Levin still a ‘no’ on HELP USA’s McGuinness shelter
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The remaining tenants of a Greenpoint loft slated to become a homeless shelter are mulling a buyout offer from their landlord — removing the most significant obstacle from a nonprofit’s path to convert it.

A source close to the negotiations confirmed that residents of the McGuinness Boulevard building are reviewing a relocation offer from the building’s owner, and could settle as early as today.

The four-story industrial building has been coveted by HELP USA, a Manhattan-based homeless nonprofit, since early June, when the Department of Homeless Services identified the site as a possible shelter location.

This summer, the organization submitted its plan to convert it into a 200-bed men’s shelter, setting off a firestorm of community opposition that included the objection of Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint), who criticized the project for “failing to address Greenpoint’s current homeless population.”

But the plan hit its most significant snag when a handful of the building’s longtime tenants applied in late June for tenant protections under the beefed-up Loft Law. If successful, the tenants could not be booted from the units.

Negotiations between the tenants and their landlord began shortly afterward, sources said, when the loft’s owner indicated to tenants he would seek to block their application with the city’s Loft Board.

It is unclear how much the tenants are demanding to facilitate costs of relocation or how much the owner is requesting for the loft’s sale — but its conversion into a shelter is contingent on the building being completely cleared.

A HELP USA executive said that the nonprofit is not a party to the negotiations. A Department of Homeless Services spokeswoman declined to comment.

Regardless of whether a deal has been completed, Levin and state Sen. Martin Dilan (D–Greenpoint) will host a town hall meeting at the Polish Slavic Center [176 Java St. at Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, (718) 875-5200] at 6 pm tonight.