Starrett City, Brooklyn
Spring Creek Towers (formally Starrett City) is a housing development in the Spring Creek (East New York) section of Brooklyn, New York City. It opened in 1974, and assumed its current name in 2002, though it is still popularly known as Starrett City. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 5. Starrett City is patrolled by the NYPD's 75th Precinct, though primary security is assumed by its own private police force.
The Starrett City site spanned over 153 acres (0.62 km2) before being subdivided in 2009 as part of a refinancing. The housing development contains 5,881 apartment units in 46 buildings, and is said to be the largest federally assisted rental property in the United States. The residential site also includes eight parking garages, a community center, and a number of parcels of undeveloped land were separated out from the residential site as part of the refinancing.
The residential portion of the property has eight "sections" each including several buildings, its own field, recreational area (jungle gym, park, handball court, basketball court) and a parking garage for residents in that section. These sections are Ardsley, Bethel, Croton, Delmar, Elmira, Freeport, Geneva, and Hornell; each named after municipalities in New York State. Each building has between 11 and 20 floors, with eight apartments on most floors. All of the apartment buildings have a street address as well as a building name consisting of one letter from A-H, and one number from 1-8. In this case, A5 would refer to the fifth building of Ardsley Loop.
Starrett City is a very diverse neighborhood. With its many grassy fields, Fresh Creek, and Spring Creek Towers Shopping Center, it is different in landscape, community, and neighborhood life than other regions of Brooklyn. The community has its own newspaper known as the Spring Creek Sun.
Starrett City also has its own boxing gym, Starrett City Boxing, on Hornell Loop. It is home to many World Champion boxers, including Zab Judah, Shannon Briggs, Dmitriy Salita, Luis Collazo, and Will Rosinsky.
Spring Creek Towers Public Safety
Starrett City's Spring Creek Towers Department of Public Safety has been used as a case study in the advantages of private security over public policing. Donovan and Walsh note, "Statistically, Starrett City must be considered one of the safest communities in the United States."
The Spring Creek Towers Department of Public Safety employs armed peace officers to preserve the life and property of the residents of the complex. Officers enforce New York State Laws as well as New York City laws. Starrett City is patrolled by Public Safety Officers 24 hours a day on foot, bikes, or in vehicles. The department also has specialized units modeled after the New York City Police Department.
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 14,620 people living in Starrett City. The demographics of Starrett City were 44.7% African American (including African and West Indian immigrants), 38.0% White (mostly Russian and Polish immigrants, many of them Jewish), 18.4% Hispanic or Latino and 4.1% Asian. As of 2000, the median household income was $56,919.
In case that went all the way to the supreme court, the Reagan Administration sued Starrett City over racial quotas in placing families at the housing complex. Since it opened in 1975, Starrett City filled vacancies under a formula in which two-thirds of the apartments went to white families. The formula was supported by many black and Hispanic residents and some civil rights groups. The point of the quota was to keep the development integrated, and to prevent the white flight which left many post war housing complexes completely segregated.
After losing the court case Starrett City did not immediately start taking families from the 80% African-American waiting list to fill vacancies. Instead they left apartments empty and attempted to rent them at market rate to those who wouldn't qualify for subsidies.
2007 sale offering
Starrett City was developed under the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, which requires owners to provide affordable apartments to middle-income residents for at least 20 years. On November 30, 2006, Starrett City Associates, the owner of the complex, announced an offering to sell the entire property. Since the property had met its 20-year requirement under Mitchell-Lama by the late 1990s, this raised fears that a new owner would increase rents and squeeze out current tenants. CB Richard Ellis, which brokered the Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town deal earlier in 2006, served as the listing agent.
Upon finding out about the sale, tenants at Starrett City began organizing in response to the sale of their homes. The state's largest tenants rights group, Tenants and Neighbors, met with Starrett tenants to inform them of their rights and options. The Starrett City tenants also partnered with the community activist organization ACORN to form Save Starrett City.
On February 8, 2007, at 3 a.m., Starrett City Associates agreed to sell the sprawling complex to David Bistricer's Clipper Equity LLC for a staggering $1.3 billion. Although the buyers insisted the complex will remain affordable, housing advocates were concerned that the high price will require rent increases and service cuts. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed doubt about Clipper Equities intentions and contrasted the sale to the similar Stuyvesant Town sale. Bloomberg called Tishman Speyer, the purchaser of Stuyvesant Town, a reputable landlord, compared to Clipper Equities. "There are questions about this landlord and some of the plans that they have to build other things there," he said. Similarly, Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Edolphus Towns expressed concern about the sale and indicated that federal hearings may be held into the matter. Senator Charles Schumer went even further and "vowed ... that he would not allow the deal to go through without an ironclad agreement from any buyer that Starrett stays affordable."
In response to HUD's rejection of the deal, Clipper Equity proposed a new bid aimed at appeasing its critics. Clipper's new bid claims that it can "trim operating expenses by installing new heating and cooling systems, lowering management fees and improving overall efficiencies," and thus keep housing affordable. The bid further raises the possibility of turning some 6,000,000 square feet (560,000 m2) of undeveloped land on the property into "new housing for the senior residents, a retirement facility for members of the city’s labor unions and small-scale retail, with a designated area for local entrepreneurs." Clipper Equity has taken other steps to garner support, including receiving informal backing from influential ministers Rev. Calvin O. Butts and Rev. A.R. Bernard.
On April 7, 2007, the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Deborah Van Amerongen rejected Clipper Equity's second proposal. She stated that Clipper's plan for rents to reach market rate after three years failed to adequately protect residents and would require increased government subsidies to keep housing there affordable.  Nevertheless, Clipper Equity made another attempt in August 2007.
2008 sale offering
In June 2008, Starrett City Associates reached an agreement with Federal, State and City officials on a sale process which would ensure that the property remains affordable. This agreement was further buttressed by federal legislation, which made preserving the property as affordable housing easier for a new buyer.
There are four schools within Starrett City's boundaries:
- Abe Stark Elementary School (PS 346)
- Gateway Intermediate School (IS 364)
- Frederick Douglas Academy VIII (located on the 4th floor of PS 346)
- Be'er Hagolah, a religious (Jewish) school
There are no high schools in Starrett City; however, the nearest high schools are William H. Maxwell Vocational High School and Thomas Jefferson High School; additionally, Canarsie High School and South Shore High School are located in Canarsie.
- Giuffo, John (April 6, 2005). "Close-Up on Starrett City, Brooklyn". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- NYPD 75 Precinct
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- Starrett Police Force
- Spring Creek Sun
- Donovan, Edwin J., and William F. Walsh (1986). An Evaluation of Starrett City Security Services. Pennsylvania State University. p. 36.
- Starrett City Security
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- Finder, Alan (July 14, 1990). "Starrett City Keeps Apartments Vacant Despite Waiting List". The New York Times.
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- Mayor wary of new Starrett owners, The Real Deal, February 9, 2007
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- TheDeal: Financial crisis tempers bids for Starrett City
- Starrett City in Pictures
- Timeline of Starrett City Auction
- Starrett City: A Home of One's Own--with Party Walls