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Corporate and Real Estate Clinic Closes $1.03 million Rehabilitation Loan for Lower East Side Building


A five-year effort by the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic, led by founder and director Professor Debra Bechtel, culminated on June 13 when Rayelle Washington ’20 represented a non-profit resident-controlled building owner in a $1.03 million rehabilitation loan closing. In order to lay the groundwork for the building owner to pursue the loan, previous clinic students worked with several dedicated residents and a community member to restructure the board of directors, obtain a real estate tax exemption, and renegotiate a commercial lease. The City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) combined rehabilitation funds from its Multifamily Housing Rehabilitation Program with forgivable loan money allocated by former City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and re-committed by City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, to provide the loan. Now with the deal completed, work on desperately needed upgrades to the building’s façade, electrical and heating system, and basement access, among other improvements, will begin later this summer. The clinic will continue to work with the board of directors on its efforts to become a low-income cooperative, providing ownership for residents as well as long-term financial stability.

“This has been a very complex project,” said Bechtel. “I am very proud of the efforts of all the clinic students and alumni who dedicated their time and energy to preserving affordability, enhancing resident control, and ultimately facilitating improvements in this building.”

HPD was represented by Michael Chau ’00, and title insurance was provided by Stewart Title Insurance Company through Tim Oberweger ’05. Washington prepared the opinion letter and worked on resolving title issues, building on the work of spring semester students John Caruso ’19 and Muhannad Al Nisheiwat ’20, who met with the board of directors, amended the certificate of incorporation, and conducted due diligence. Alumni involved in other aspects of the project include Anna Mikaelyan ’18, Charles Huynh ’17, Chris Saverino ’17, David Jason ’17, Dan Sweeney ’16, Ara Kokshanian ’16, Orly Graeber ’15, and Brian Hanley ’14.

Bechtel, one of New York City’s foremost legal experts in low-income cooperatives, is founder and director of the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic, which provides representation for low-income co-ops. Students have helped preserve dozens of low-income cooperatives throughout the city by assisting in loan closings, real estate tax arrears, shareholder meetings, and other challenges. Bechtel is also deputy director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE), which trains students to represent entrepreneurs and involves them in housing and economic development policy issues.