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March 04, 2011

Pizzigallis and Housing Groups Sign Deal to Preserve Affordable Housing

WharflaneIt's official: The Pizzigallis have signed off on the necessary purchase and sales agreements to sell affordable housing units at Wharf Lane and Bobbin Mill to the Burlington Housing Authority and Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

Angelo Pizzagalli signed the two purchase and sales agreements today on behalf of the three Pizzigalli brothers with ownership interests in Maple Street Building Company.

"With fully executed agreements, we can now move forward to our next challenge, the purchase of Wharf Lane on March 31," said Paul Dettman, executive director of the Burlington Housing Authority.

Neither side disclosed a final purchase price for the properties. The final purchase price for Wharf Lane was $3,515,000, and the expected purchase price for Bobbin Mill is $6,485,000 (subject to an appraisal confirming a price equal to, or greater than, that figure).*

A private appraisal reportedly estimates the building’s market value at $4.8 million, more than double the city’s 2006 assessment of $1.6 million. The lower figure reflects the building’s current use: home to 37 units of affordable housing. The higher number measures potential revenues based on converting those into high-rent units for college students.

It's rumored that the building sold for closer to $3 million. But, as part of the deal the Pizzigallis also agreed to sell a nearby property, Bobbin MIll — a 57-unit apartment complex sandwiched between Pine and South Champlain streets. That property, also owned by Pizzagalli, was slated to go up for sale later this year.

In January — on the day they were supposed to receive eviction notices — the 44 residents of Wharf Lane were handed much better news: A deal has been struck between two nonprofit housing groups and the building's owner that will keep their apartments as subsidized, affordable housing.

For almost a year, Wharf Lane's tenants — some of Burlington's poorest public-housing residents — have been caught in a battle between their landlord and two housing nonprofits. Negotiations stalled in late December, and it looked as if the residents would be evicted in April. Their leases were set to expire March 31.

As Seven Days noted last year, Pizzagalli Properties put Wharf Lane on the market. It’s one of thousands of affordable housing complexes built 30 years ago using taxpayer-subsidized mortgages and rental subsidies provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The deal was: At the end of the mortgage, the developers would have the option to sell the low-income housing to the highest bidder.

* This post was updated to include the purchase prices of the two properties.

This is good news! But....why can we not see the final price or terms of the deal? Are these not publicly funded agencies? Does Paul Dettman operate in the shadows of private negotiation or is he an public official whose actions deserve scrutiny? Shay, please shed some light on the deal, and also look into the management at BHA.

Kevin: The sales prices have been disclosed, they just weren't at the time I published the post. I had inquired, but the information came after the post went live. I've now updated the post to include the dollar figures.

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