New Affordable Housing In South Bronx

Published on November 19, 2009, 5:19 pm
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New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero announced today the selection of the developers who will construct mixed-use affordable housing on the last large city-owned tracts of land in the Melrose Commons North Urban Renewal Area (URA), the same neighborhood that became notorious for massive private-sector disinvestment and arson during the 1970’s.

The developers were chosen through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). Phipps Houses Group was selected to build approximately 216 units of lower-income housing for Site A, Blue Sea Development and WHEDCo were chosen to build approximately 290 mixed-income units on Site B, and the team of CPC Resources, The Briarwood Organization and The Bridge will develop RFP Site C with a total of appropriately 257 units of affordable housing.

The three sites included in the Melrose Commons North RFP, which total approximately 127,000-square-feet, are located between East 161 Street and East 163 Street, between Courtlandt, Melrose and Eltona Avenues in the South Bronx. They represent the last remaining large developable residential sites within the Melrose URA and together will add approximately 770 units to the 2,743 units already built or currently in construction within the Melrose Commons URA. 

“Anyone who comes to the South Bronx can see the bricks and mortar evidence of our serious, ongoing commitment to the rebirth of this community and to the families who are most in need of quality affordable housing. With the development of the Melrose Commons North sites we are moving to complete the transformation of this area of the South Bronx and creating a thriving neighborhood of new affordable and mixed-income housing, new commercial enterprise, and new opportunities,” said HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero. “Phipps, WHEDCo, Blue Sea, CPC, Briarwood and The Bridge can rightfully claim to have played a critical role as our partners in developing affordable housing on various sites in this and other neighborhoods across the city. These development teams have a solid track record of building sustainable, affordable housing. I look forward to working with them as we lay the cornerstones that will complete the renaissance of this formerly infamous neighborhood. I thank Enterprise for providing the funding to help us build healthier, greener homes, and all of our elected officials for their support and leadership.”

The Melrose Commons North RFP designations move the City closer to fulfilling the goals of Mayor Bloomberg’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing; the largest municipal affordable housing initiative in the nation. In the Bronx alone, the City has funded more than 35,400 units and completed more than 28,400 units of affordable housing since 2002. In accordance with the NHMP, the Melrose Commons North development projects leverage re-zonings to transform underutilized land into sustainable, energy-efficient neighborhoods that residents, local business and community groups can call home. Building affordable housing in neighborhoods across New York City is a central component of the Bloomberg Administration’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to create jobs for New Yorkers today, implement a vision for long-term economic growth and build affordable, attractive neighborhoods.

Each of the Melrose Commons North proposals include commercial and/or community facility space, including a 10,000-square-foot early childhood education center in Site A, as well as environmentally friendly and aesthetically innovative design features. A majority of the affordable housing will be available to families earning at or below 60% Area Median Income (AMI) or what is equal to an annual income of $46,100 for a family of four. The designated development teams were selected based on an evaluation of the financial feasibility of the proposal, affordability of residential units, quality of architectural design, development and management experience and capacity—including green development experience—as well as other factors noted in the RFP. Electronic versions of the RFP are available on HPD’s website here

The developments in the Melrose Commons URA are a component of the South Bronx Initiative, Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive plan to sustain and strengthen the ongoing revitalization of the area by encouraging not only the development of these sites but also the expanded and balanced retail community which will accompany them. Progress has been achieved through coordinated efforts among City agencies and the Bronx Borough President’s office, Congressman José E. Serrano, New York City Council members Helen Foster and Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Bronx Community Board Three to continue to establish Melrose Commons as a mixed-income and balanced retail community. The RFP, a product of their shared vision, advances the goals of generating mixed-income housing, attractive retail districts and public spaces for South Bronx residents. Additionally, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. will be committing a total of $225,000 in grant funding ($75,000 per site) for the implementation of their Green Communities initiatives to help the developers build homes that are healthier, more energy efficient and better for the environment – without compromising affordability.

“The construction of these new affordable housing units is going to be another huge step forward for the Melrose community and for Bronx families looking for housing options,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “I am glad to hear that so many of the mixed-use features that the community needs will be part of the finished buildings. I applaud all involved for their commitment to this vision and to building affordable housing options in the Bronx.”

“These developers have the great responsibility to build quality affordable housing for our residents. Housing is a major issue in New York and the Bronx, and I am proud to say that, thanks to projects like the Melrose Commons North, The Bronx is leading the way in providing housing opportunities for people of all incomes in our borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“This development is a welcomed addition to our community. From its inception the City and the developers worked together with the community board, and local elected officials to determine what was not only needed, but also wanted in the community. The much needed community space for child care was one of the benefits of that collaboration. We look forward to the economic revitalization of the area as a result of this mixed income development,” said Council Member Helen D. Foster.

“Bronx Community Board Three welcomes the announcement by Commissioner Cestero of the development teams for the Melrose Commons North RFP sites. This serves as the catalyst for the development of the last three remaining ‘frontiers’ within the Melrose Commons North neighborhood area of Bronx Community District Three, whose heyday after nearly 25 years, is once again just around the corner. We commend the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development as well as our state and federal partners, for their commitment to the Bronx success story,” said John W. Dudley, District Manager of Bronx Community Board Three.

“Enterprise is committed to making sure that every New Yorker has a place to call home, and by providing a $225,000 Green Communities grant we will ensure that the future residents of Melrose Commons North will have an environmentally responsible, energy efficient, and healthy home. Our support of Melrose North is in line with out our recent launch of the next generation of Enterprise Green Communities, where we committed to help create or preserve 10,000 units of green affordable housing in New York over the next 5 years,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Vice President and New York City Director, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.  “Since 2004, Enterprise has worked with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to create 4,000 green affordable homes in New York and invested $250,000,000 in healthier, more sustainable communities.”

Melrose Commons North – RFP Site A

The Phipps Houses Group, will build approximately 216 units of lower-income housing within two buildings on RFP Site A, along with the early childhood center sponsored by The City Administration for Childhood Services (ACS). The architect for this project is Richard Dattner Associates.

Melrose Commons North – RFP Site B

Blue Sea Development and WHEDCO’s proposal is for the development of approximately 290 mixed-income units within 3 buildings on RFP Site B, along with approximately 54,000 square feet of commercial and/or community facility space. This proposed development, whose theme is “The House that Jazz Built”, will seek to include among its residents, retired musicians. The architect for this project is Rogers Marvel.

Melrose Commons North – RFP Site C

The team of CPC Resources, The Briarwood Organization and The Bridge will develop RFP Site C with 3 buildings with a total of approximately 257 units along with approximately 27,500 square feet of commercial space. This development will target a variety of populations. The architect for this project is Magnusson Architecture and Planning.

Other significant development within Melrose Commons includes the 699-unit Boricua Village with its 14-story building for Boricua College in construction directly across Elton Avenue from two of these RFP sites, and The Orion and The Aurora, recently completed condominium elevator apartment buildings, the first in the South Bronx in more than 40 years. Other major projects near Melrose Commons include St. Ann’s Terrace with six buildings and 418 units currently in construction and Via Verde, a 221-unit mixed rental and cooperative development which was the winning proposal in the high-profile design competition co-sponsored by HPD with the NYC chapter of the American Institute of Architects and which will soon be starting construction.

New York City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan

The Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is a comprehensive strategy to bring New York City through the current economic downturn as fast as possible. It focuses on three major areas: creating jobs for New Yorkers today, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy, and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. Taken together, the initiatives that the City has launched to achieve these goals will generate thousands of jobs and put New York City on a path to economic recovery and growth.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)

HPD’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. It is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, HPD also actively promotes the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. For more information visit their website here.


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