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Category ArchiveNew York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Thorobird Wins $65M in Public Bonds for Bronx Supportive Housing Plan

A residential project in the Bronx, designed to house middle-class and low-income tenants, as well as people with addiction and mental-health problems, has received $65 million in public bonds to fund construction, according to an announcement from its developer, Thorobird Companies.

Known as The Grand, the project, which will comprise three buildings at 220 East 178th Street, 225 East 179th Street and 2189-2195 Morris Avenue in the Mount Hope neighborhood, will offer 138 apartments targeted to residents across the income spectrum. Although a suite of features including a furnished roof deck, solar electricity and a modish design concept recall market-rate developments elsewhere in the city, dozens of The Grand’s apartments will be dedicated to supportive housing, a program designed to reintegrate mentally ill or formerly homeless or imprisoned people into the mainstream housing stock.

To that end, the complex will sport round-the-clock onsite counseling and support from social workers and other therapists. That service will be administered by ACMH, a New York City-based non-profit that runs programs for transitional residents at several housing programs in the city.

The 40-year financing for the project—which consists of contributions from the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will help Thorobird create a more humane community for needy residents than currently exists in the city, according to Thomas Campbell, Thorobird’s founder.

In typical affordable housing projects, “housing is something you do to someone, not for someone,” Campbell said. “We believe in homes, and we want to humanize the experience for our residents, [allowing them] to live in a place built with them in mind.”

“We’re so far behind as a society in providing affordable housing,” he added.

The project was jump-started in part by a $250,000 capital injection from the office of the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr. The grant, known as Resolution A funding after the city provision that allows for the discretionary outlay, was crucial for getting larger agencies on board, according to the developer.

“When you get started with a project, you need someone to step in first,” Campbell said.

Diaz described Campbell’s project as a model for integrated housing solutions in the city.

“This is construction with common sense and compassion,” Diaz said, praising the conceit to house some of the city’s neediest residents alongside working-class neighbors. “It’s important for us to have income diversity.”

Still, Diaz said, the funding process was flawed. The HFA pushed Thorobird around in the project’s planning stages, the borough president averred, requiring the developer to meet exacting specifications before providing the financing bond.

Freeman Klopott, a deputy commissioner in the state housing administration, resisted that narrative, noting that New York State received an application for funding in February 2017 and approved the bond in September, without unusual delay. An official at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, who requested anonymity, agreed that no delay had occurred.

Source: commercial

Controversial Bedford Union Armory Project Gets City Council Approval

The City Council has voted through the embattled plan to redevelop the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, marking the end of the two-year-long saga punctuated by protests and charges of gentrification.

The council voted to approve the project 43 to 2, with one abstention from Councilmember Jumaane Williams. Developer BFC Partners will build 400 rentals, 250 of which would rent for below-market rates to families earning between $25,000 and $57,000. Ten percent of those units would be reserved for people leaving the homeless shelter system. The remaining 150 would be market-rate apartments, which will generate the revenue needed to run a planned 68,000-square-foot recreational center.

The city has required BFC to offer $1.3 million in community benefits annually, largely in the form of $10-a-person recreation center memberships to neighborhood residents and discounted rents for several local nonprofits.

Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who represents Crown Heights and a few other central Brooklyn neighborhoods, had pledged to oppose the original version of the plan earlier this year, because it included condominium units and didn’t offer enough housing that would be affordable to the neighborhood. Then last week, she was able to negotiate a deal that secured $50 million in affordable housing funding from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development and the New York City Housing Development Corporation. The new subsidy allowed her to cut condos from the plan and incorporate more low-income housing than the original proposal from BFC.

“We’re in the middle of the largest housing crisis we’ve ever known,” Cumbo said during the vote. “I fought with my colleagues to make sure we ended luxury condominiums.” Defending the inclusion of market-rate units as a way to pay for the rec center, she added, “I wish that there was another way to pay for things but other than to pay for things.”

Councilwoman Inez Barron, who was one of the “no” votes, said that the city should have done more to build 100 percent affordable housing on the city-owned site. “We are not taking full advantage of providing housing to the most needy,” she said. “We could have established a community land trust, and we could have seen how that would have been a model going forward for the city.”

The City Council vote was the final approval in the eight-month-long land use process, and the development will go forward as planned unless the mayor decides to veto it. It also faces opposition from the Legal Aid Society, which filed a lawsuit today arguing that the city didn’t properly evaluate how many tenants would be displaced by the armory project.

Source: commercial