Email a Friend
NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

Contact: Tracy Paurowski 212-227-9496

138 Families Move Into Harlem Building Named for Frederick Douglass
-- Newly Constructed Mixed-Income Development Opens --

August 5, 2004, New York, NY -New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Strategic Development and Construction Group, Citibank, and community and elected officials today celebrated the opening of a newly constructed mixed-income apartment building located in the Harlem Gateway at 279 West 117th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Clyde Smyth, a tenant of The Douglass, gave a brief history of the building's namesake, Frederick Douglass, before unveiling the portraits of the Civil Rights leader that hang in the lobby of the building. Mr. Smyth also authored the captions on the accompanying plaques.

The 138-unit building was developed through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Cornerstone Program, a multi-family new construction initiative to produce affordable housing on city-owned land and financed principally through private sources. Strategic Development and Construction Group was awarded the site through a competitive Request for Proposals process.

"The Douglass demonstrates the City's commitment to invest in our neighborhoods to provide housing for a broad range of incomes," said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. "Creating more affordable housing is a key strategy of Mayor Bloomberg's $3 billion plan to fund the construction and rehabilitation of 65,000 homes and apartments through 2008."

The Douglass utilized financing available through the New York City Housing Development Corporation's affordable housing finance programs. Over $18 million of tax-exempt bond financing was provided to make a first mortgage loan. Additionally, through its corporate reserves, HDC provided $3.5 million to make a 1% second mortgage loan.

"HDC is continuously looking for innovative financing strategies in order to leverage the private dollars available to fund affordable housing," stated Emily A. Youssouf, President, HDC, " this combination of tax-exempt bonds and our corporate reserves allowed us to further offset the high cost of construction and deepen the range of affordability for tenants. In 2004, HDC expects to provide more than $845 million in financing through its affordable housing programs to create over 5,000 apartments."

During construction Citibank's Community Development Group provided a standby letter of credit to secure the financing. Proceeds from the sale of low- income housing tax credits provided an additional $3.17 million of funding for the development.

"The ribbon cutting for The Douglass is another significant milestone in Harlem's Second Renaissance," said Ellen Alemany, Executive Vice President of Citibank's Commercial Business Group. "We are very proud to have partnered with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the NYC Housing Development Corporation and Strategic Construction and Development Group in this affordable housing effort and provide $18.95 million in construction financing for the development of this beautiful new building."

In accordance with the financing that was made available to the developer, rents were made affordable to range of very-low, low- and middle-income residents. Forty-two of the Douglass' apartments are reserved for low-income tenants, with initial rents ranging from $380 for a studio to $879 for a three-bedroom. The remaining units are available to middle-income tenants, with initial rents ranging from $975 for a studio up to $1,975 for a three-bedroom.

The principal of Strategic Development and Construction Group, John Frezza, has over 25 years of experience as both a general contractor and developer of affordable housing - having rehabilitated and newly constructed approximately 1600 units of housing throughout the City, 350 of which are in Harlem.

"Strategic has a long history of working with our government, non profit and private sector partners in creating much needed affordable housing in New York City," stated John Frezza, Principal, Strategic Development and Construction Group. "Our company is especially proud to have participated in the revitalization of this sector of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and believe that it is a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood."

The Douglass apartments are spacious with large light filled windows, galley kitchens with modern appliances and shaker style wood cabinets, and designer baths with pedestal sinks. Some apartments have French balconies, private terraces and patios. The lobby has a terrazzo floor, stained wood panel wainscoting and a concierge desk. Other amenities include a 24 hour security key system, a fitness room with the latest equipment, landscaped garden area and patio for common use of all tenants.

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is a public benefit corporation established in 1971 to facilitate the creation of affordable housing throughout New York City by providing below market rate financing. HDC finances most of its activities through the issuance of bonds and notes as well as provides mortgages directly from its Corporate reserves. HDC has financed more than 78,000 units of housing throughout the city of New York. For more information about HDC's housing finance programs, please visit us at

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 1987, the agency has completed the construction or rehabilitation of over 216,000 units of affordable housing. To request a Homeownership Kit or for more information about affordable rental housing, call 311 or log on to

# # #

View Site Map