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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


April 20, 2000

Press Contacts: Carol Abrams (HPD)(212) 863-5176
Luke Cusack (HDC) (212) 227-8580

NYC HPD Announces Designation of Developers for Affordable Apartments in Harlem

New "Cornerstone Program" Launches with $145 Million Public/Private Investment

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced the designation of developers for the construction of 726 affordable rental apartments at eight sites in Harlem. The sites are the first to be developed under HPD's Cornerstone Program which seeks to spur the creation of new homeownership and rental apartments in areas where the city has made substantial housing and commercial investments.

"The housing, community, and commercial space made available through this first round of the Cornerstone Program will help expand and diversify Harlem's economic base and allow more families to live, shop, and work in Harlem," said HPD Commissioner Richard T. Roberts.

One distinct feature of development plans is the inclusion of space for a neighborhood charter school at the Cornerstone site at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 117th Street.

Five of the Harlem Cornerstone sites, located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Fifth Avenue, and First Avenue, will receive funding from the New York City Housing Development Corporation's (HDC) New Housing Opportunities Program (New HOP), an initiative designed to meet the affordable housing needs of middle income NewYorkers. The developments will contain 504 units ranging in size from studios to three-bedrooms. Amenities offered at the different sites include an outdoor landscaped recreation deck with a jogging track, landscaped courtyards, and wiring for internet and cable access.

"New HOP is working in neighborhoods as diverse as Harlem, Rego Park, and Fort Greene. That is a testament to the desirability of various neighborhoods throughout the City, to the inherent flexibility of the program itself, and to the turnaround Mayor Giuliani's economic development and crime initiatives have achieved," said HDC President Russell A. Harding.

HPD is providing development incentives by contributing all eight sites at the cost of $1 each. HDC is providing New HOP sites with subsidies of up to $30,000 per apartment and permanent financing made available through the sale of taxable bonds. The total development cost of all eight sites is approximately $145 million.

The remaining three sites are located on 117th Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard, and on 145th Street and Bradhurst Avenue. Amenities offered at the different sites include courtyards, terraces, and underground parking.

A total of 44 proposals were received for the eight designated sites. The developers selected were Strategic Development & Construction Group LLC; Gateway Properties LLC and Bruno Frustaci Contracting, Inc.; The Richman Group of New York LLC and Gotham Organization, Inc.; Glenwood Management Corp.; W-S Developers LLC, a joint venture of Lemle & Wolff, Inc. and Great American Construction, Corp.; and, finally, Citywide Builders LLC, a minority-based consortium, and L.G. Properties Co. LLC, which will be developing the largest site in terms of units created, on Fifth Avenue between West 138th and West 139th Streets.

"It was a very competitive selection process with creative design and strong financing proposals from many interested respondents," said Roberts. "Coming on the heels of the City's $271 million investment in housing in Harlem on both new construction and rehabilitation, and quality of life improvements, the area is attractive to private financing and is clearly a neighborhood of choice for many New Yorkers."

Developers are responsible for individual equity contributions and for securing private market construction financing. Construction is expected to begin by summer 2001, with marketing by developers to follow in winter 2001. Qualified tenants for the new apartments will be selected by a lottery process administered by HPD.

The projects include a total of 104,656 square feet of commercial/professional office space for ground-floor, neighborhood service retail, and other uses. Over 54,000 square feet of community space is expected to be developed, including an annex for the John A. Reisenbach Charter School, located on Malcolm X Boulevard between 125th Street and 126th Street.

The John A. Reisenbach Charter School opened last fall with 120 students and plans to increase enrollment to 780 students over the next eight years. Daniel Oscar, founder and president of The Learning Project Inc., the school's operator, says that due to inadequate capital funding, facilities are often the "Achilles' heel" of charter school development. The annex at 117th Street is unique because, although available by lease, it will be built to fit school requirements. Mr. Oscar believes that the project, which has already received the attention of educators as far away as California, could serve as a model for future charter school development.

HPD will be issuing a Request for Proposals for the second round of the Cornerstone Program in May, 2000. This next RFP will seek development plans for the remaining vacant city-owned land on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and for other sites in Central and East Harlem.

HPD's mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation's largest municipal housing development agency. Since Fiscal Year 1994, the agency has completed the construction or rehabilitation of nearly 58,000 units of affordable housing.

Through HDC, the City provides access to low cost financing for the development of low and middle-income housing. HDC financing gives developers the opportunity to create new affordable housing units throughout New York City's five boroughs. The new units developed at the designated Cornerstone sites will bring to 2,335 the total number of apartments New HOP has completed since its inception in 1997.

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