NYCHA explores major overhaul to complex in Chelsea

A play area in Chelsea has been corroding for years, according to public housing tenants at the Fulton Houses. But construction is underway after the state approved a plan to spend nearly $800,000 on sprinklers, trees, and barbecues. The new area is set to open this summer. But it may not be around for that long.

"It's not even worth that money that they say they spent," one long-time NYCHA tenant told FOX 5 NY. "And now they're going to tear that down and put up another building."

After years of tenants and elected officials criticizing the New York City Housing Authority for financial mismanagement, the agency has announced a plan to replace the new play area with new residential towers. Some of the existing public housing buildings would also be replaced with mixed-income private developments to raise money for needed repairs.

"Outside of the fact that we want to bring $168 million worth of repairs, we are open to other ideas and different sites," said David Pristin, the executive VP for external affairs at NYCHA.

NYCHA wants to make clear that for now, this is just a proposal. The agency has been holding meetings with tenants to get input. The agency also claims the playground equipment would be moved to another area if the plan goes into effect and that no residents would be displaced from the complex.

"That's a lie. They already told us there is a chance for people to be displaced if our building is selected to be demolished," John Quiles, a tenant, said.

NYCHA told FOX 5 NY that tenants may be displaced from their building but would be moved into a new building in the same complex.

Tenant Mark Anthony Kizer Jr. said he loves the idea of a mixed-income residence.

"It gives us the opportunity to be in the same place and feel equal to people of other ethnicities," he said.

NYCHA said the play area is opening this summer no matter what. If the mixed-income housing plan does go into effect, construction will start in a few years. The plan would also have to be approved first by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that oversees NYCHA.