Penn South is the common name for the Mutual Redevelopment Houses, a limited-equity housing cooperative development located between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 23rd and 29th Streets, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The 10-building. 2,820-unit complex – every tower has 22 floors – was built in 1962, and was sponsored by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union based on the cooperative model promoted by the United Housing Foundation. It was designed by Herman Jessor. The dedication ceremony, in May of 1962, was addressed by President John F. Kennedy with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in attendance.
To help keep Penn South affordable to those with limited incomes, New York City gave the development 25 years of tax abatements, from 1961 to 1986. After that, the cooperative’s shareholders voted for a 25-year phase-in of real-estate taxes, which was approved by the city’s Board of Estimate. A further adjustment was made when the development asked the city in 1999 for tax relief when the building boom in Chelsea caused the project’s assessed value to skyrocket. The city responded in 2001 by allowing the development’s taxes to be calculated based on the cooperative’s income, as is done with Mitchell-Lama housing. In return, the development must remain a limited-equity cooperative until 2030.