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CUNY to sell pricey presidents’ homes

A pair of expensive Douglas Manor homes were among those listed as part of a City University of New York plan to sell off several of its residential properties around the five boroughs now used to give college presidents and the chancellor rent-free housing.

CUNY spokesman Michael Arena said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s proposal to unload the pricey homes that include a four-story brownstone on the Upper East Side, a co-op on Central Park West, and homes in Riverdale in the Bronx, Staten Island, and two in Brooklyn in addition to two upscale homes in Douglas Manor.

A three-bedroom home on Park Lane in Douglas Manor is now home to York College President Charles Kidd, while another residence on Shore Road is designated for the head of Queens College but is currently unoccupied, Arena said.

Selling the properties would save CUNY maintenance costs and allow it to increase the housing allowance for its college presidents, Arena said. CUNY includes approximately 20 colleges and community colleges citywide.

“The overall plan is to divest these properties over a long period of time,” Arena said Tuesday. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow.”

While the CUNY board of trustee was slated to discuss the sale of one of the university’s Manhattan properties at its meeting later this month, trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld expressed enthusiasm for the plan.

“It’s a highly innovative and cost-effective plan,” said Wiesenfeld, who lived in Forest Hills for 25 years before moving just across the Queens border to Lake Success, L.I. “There’s no need for us to hold onto these kinds of properties.”

Both Douglas Manor homes were purchased by CUNY in 1968. Some real estate brokers who did not wish to be named said homes in Douglas Manor regularly sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars and property on the water could go for $1 million or more.

Arena emphasized the sale of the CUNY properties would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and said there were legal issues as to how funds from the sales could be used to increase housing allowances for CUNY officials.

Wiesenfeld praised Goldstein’s proposal.

“This divests us of the responsibility of maintaining these residential properties while simultaneously generating significant income from these very appropriate properties,” he said. “There’s no question we will save money.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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