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Sale of Hip-Hop Landmark Rejected

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development on Monday (March 3) rejected the sale of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, a building long considered to be the “birthplace of Hip-Hop.” Tenants of the building, where DJ Kool Herc held a party in 1973 that helped spawn the genre, have been fighting to maintain the keep the property in the city’s Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program. After a real-estate developer made an inflated offer, residents began to worry that the building could be removed from the program, which would have likely caused rents to skyrocket. According to amNewYork, the HPD rejected the sale after reviewing the prospective buyer’s proposal and finances. “We couldn’t see a way the rents allowed under Mitchell-Lama could cover the purchase price,” said Neill Coleman, a HPD spokesman. Although the building was deemed eligible for designation as a historic landmark last July, the HPD could not legally consider its status when assessing the sale. In January, with support from Herc and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the tenants announced that they had formed an ownership group and were in the process of raising money to purchase the building themselves. Should they succeed, they intend to turn the property into an affordable co-op. While the HPD decision brings them closer to that goal, the fate of the building is still up in the air. The current owner could still pull the building from the Mitchell-Lama program and sell the property without public review.

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