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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


Press Contact: Tracy Paurowski
(212) 227-9496


-- New Building Overlooks Field of Dreams Youth Baseball Field Given Quarter Million Dollar Renovation by Developers --

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) along with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined Harlem RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), elected officials, and the developers to celebrate the opening of The Aspen, a newly constructed seven-story building with 234 apartments over 15,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space located at 1955 First Avenue. The development is the first in the City to mix low- and middle-income restricted apartments with market-rate rental apartments.

When HPD issued a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) in 2000 to develop the city-owned vacant land along First Avenue between East 100th and 101st Streets, the site was home to the Harlem RBI, "Field of Dreams," youth baseball fields. The RFP required potential developers to work with the organization that has served thousands of local youngsters through baseball and softball programs since 1991. As a result, the designated development team, 100th Street Tri-Venture, a joint venture between L&M Equity Participants, Ltd., BFC Partners, and Allstate Realty Associates, contributed $250,000 toward a state-of-the-art renovation of the ball field, now visible immediately beyond The Aspen's landscaped second floor exterior courtyard.

Originally, this development was going to be financed through HDC as a traditional 80/20 building, with 20% of the apartments reserved for low-income residents and the remaining rented at market rate rents. HDC determined however, that it would be economically feasible to mix a wider range of income-restricted apartments and designed the City's first 50/30/20 financing program. This type of financing sets-aside 20% of the apartments for low-income tenants, 30% for middle-income tenants, and the remaining 50% are rented at market-rate. The Aspen benefits a more economically diverse population, and marks the beginning of HDC's Mixed-Income Program.

"The Aspen represents neighborhood redevelopment at its best, bringing the community safe, secure housing that's affordable to New Yorkers with a mix of incomes and accommodating a neighborhood institution, Harlem RBI, with a state-of-the-art ball field," said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. "This is a home run for East Harlem and for the Mayor's housing plan, The New Housing Marketplace: Creating Housing for the Next Generation, to fund the rehabilitation and construction of 65,000 houses and apartments through 2008."

"The decision to create this new financing structure was based on a strong housing market emerging in East Harlem," stated HDC President Emily A. Youssouf. "We are continuously looking at current market conditions to determine how our resources can go farther and how we can best serve the housing needs of New Yorkers with diverse economic backgrounds."

"Harlem RBI is thankful for the generosity of the 100th Street Tri-Venture and their support of the children and the families of East Harlem," stated Harlem RBI Executive Director Richard Berlin. "We look forward to a long and lasting partnership that will help our entire community to Play, Learn and Grow for many years to come."

The total development cost was $52 million. Through HDC a $44 million first mortgage was provided through the sale of tax-exempt bonds and a 1% second mortgage was made in the amount of $2.75 million through its corporate reserves. The remaining financing was provided through 100th Street Tri-Venture, whose principals are Ron Moelis and Sandy Lowentheil of L&M Equity Participants, Ltd., Don Capoccia and Brandon Baron of BFC Partners, and Joe Spitzer of Allstate Realty Associates.

"The financial complexities of this development made this an interesting, but challenging undertaking," stated Ron Moelis, L&M Principal. "It was only with the sophisticated assistance of HDC and my other financial partners that this unique financing model became reality. The idea of mixed income housing is one that needs to be replicated in other developments throughout the city."

In order for this financing structure to work, Fannie Mae, through American Property Financing, provided credit enhancement to HDC for the life of the mortgage. JPMorgan Chase provided the standby letter of credit during construction.

"The Aspen represents an innovative way for the city to address the critical need for affordable rental housing," stated Naomi Bayer, Director, Fannie Mae's New York Partnership Office. "Our multifamily and American Community Fund investment in this project through our partners APF and JP Morgan Chase exemplifies Fannie Mae's partnership support for the City's housing priorities and New York's communities."

Additionally, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group provided a $6.5 million standby equity investment to the bond transaction, and stated, "We are proud to have played a part in the creation of more affordable housing in this vibrant East Harlem neighborhood."

Costas Kondylis & Partners with Magnusson Architecture and Planning, both of Manhattan, designed the building. Amenities at The Aspen include a laundry facility, exercise room, game room, outside, 2nd floor Courtyard and a 110-car garage. Harlem RBI will also be moving its headquarters, currently located across the street from 1955 First Ave, to a portion of the retail space.

A few apartments remain to be leased, if you are interested in renting an apartment at The Aspen, please call 212 876 1955 and ask for Brian.

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. In its more than 30-year history, HDC has financed over 78,000 units of housing throughout the city of New York.

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