New York State Homes and Community Renewal, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Douglaston Development today announced the closing of construction financing for a 188-unit affordable senior housing development in the Bedford Park area of the Bronx.
The development will include a new supermarket on the ground floor that will offer the community access to healthy, affordable food. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2021 on the $93.5 million project, located at 2856 Webster Avenue, land owned by The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).
“The Webster Avenue development is the result of a unique opportunity to transform an underutilized lot owned by The New York Botanical Garden into 188 affordable apartments for seniors,” said HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “This development will help meet a growing need for safe, modern homes for New Yorkers to age in place. Residents will have convenient access to a ground-floor grocery store, on-site social services, and everything The New York Botanical Garden has to offer. As we carry out Governor Cuomo’s ambitious housing plan, we are committed to building and preserving affordable homes and combatting homelessness in every neighborhood of the Bronx, in New York City, and across the state.”
HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said, “Safe and secure affordable housing for New York’s seniors remains an essential priority for this Administration. This new development offering affordable housing for seniors, complete with a supermarket on site, will be an incredible asset to the Bedford Park community for years to come. I want to thank New York State Homes and Community Renewal and Douglaston Development for their partnership on this project.”
Jeffrey E. Levine, Founder and Chairman of Douglaston Development said, “We are proud to take part in an exemplary project involving both city and state entities banding together to bring much-needed affordable senior housing to fruition within the Bronx community. We look forward to our continued partnership with The New York Botanical Garden as the project moves into its next phase of development and breaks ground in the coming months.”
HCR provided $32.1 million in tax-exempt bond financing, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $33.6 million in equity and $6.6 million in subsidy. HPD provided a $12.8 million subsidy. Financing for the project also includes a $6.8 million deferred developer fee and approximately $1.6 million in interest accrued from subsidy programs. Wells Fargo is the tax credit syndicator and provided a letter of credit for the project.
In addition to housing for low-income seniors, on-site social services will be provided through the Fordham Bedford Community Services to children and families within the Northwest Bronx and the surrounding communities. Fordham Bedford Community Services provides educational services outside of school, recreational opportunities, referral services to health, educational, recreational, employment and childcare counseling programs, workshops for counseling and training in housing rights and responsibilities, financial education and community involvement.
The development will continue Governor Cuomo’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing through the state’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing and Homelessness Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 with supportive services.
The project will also aid Mayor de Blasio in meeting his commitment to create or preserve 300,000 affordable homes in his Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan and updated Housing New York 2.0 plan.
The New York Botanical Garden selected Douglaston Development to lead the development process and executed a 99-year ground lease with Douglaston in August of 2020. This is the first phase of a two-phase development that will include a future affordable mixed-use development at the adjacent 410 Bedford Park Boulevard.
The project benefited from NYC DCP’s FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) Program, which provides zoning and tax benefits for the creation or renovation of supermarkets that agree to operate as certified FRESH food stores in applicable districts throughout New York City.
Aaron Bouska, Vice President for Government and Community Relations at NYBG said, “The New York Botanical Garden applauds New York State’s and New York City’s commitments to an affordable mixed-use, intergenerational project in our neighborhood, which NYBG has anchored for nearly 130 years. With more than 40 percent of seniors in the Bronx being rent-burdened, the need for affordable senior housing cannot be overstated. After almost a decade of collaboration with community stakeholders, it is gratifying to know construction will commence in 2021.”
Alan Wiener, acting Head of Community Lending & Investment for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. said, “Wells Fargo is committed to providing much needed support to develop affordable senior housing throughout New York and the U.S. We are proud to work closely with Douglaston Development and many other partners to bring this important development to the Bronx, as it will provide meaningful impact to the community for many years to come.”
John Garcia, Executive Director of Fordham Bedford Community Services said, “Fordham Bedford Community Services is excited to partner with Douglaston Development to bring much needed senior affordable housing and services to our neighborhood. Together we will ensure that our residents live in a safe, healthy, and engaging environment.”
Ritchie Torres, New York’s 15th Congressional District Representative said, “The need for affordable housing for Bronx residents, and for seniors in particular, cannot be overstated. The CoViD-19 pandemic, along with rising rents and stagnant wages, have exacerbated the affordable housing crisis in our city. This project will bring much needed 100% affordable units to Bronx seniors and will revitalize the Bedford Park section of the Bronx. I look forward to seeing this project fully completed in the coming years, and thank the Botanical Garden, Douglaston Development and the various city, state and federal agencies for their work in pushing this forward.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “Providing affordable housing and healthy food options in the Bronx has been a priority of mine since I first took office, and that is why I am proud to be a part of this much needed mixed-use affordable housing development for our seniors. This pandemic has highlighted the ongoing struggles Bronxites face when it comes to affordability of housing and healthy food options, and this project is a tremendous step forward in eradicating these issues. I would like to thank all the respective agencies and organizations involved in this.”