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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seth McM. Donlin, HPD (212) 863-5176, donlins@hpd.nyc.gov
Miriam Solis, HPD (212) 863-8481, solism@hpd.nyc.gov


DEPUTY MAYOR LIEBER, HPD COMMISSIONER CESTERO, COUNCIL MEMBER BARRON AND EAST BROOKLYN CONGREGATIONS ANNOUNCE THE OPENING OF FIRST PHASE OF NEHEMIAH HOMES IN EAST NEW YORK

Transformation of Former Landfill Site into New Community for More than 7,000 New Yorkers Includes Affordable Housing, a Public School and Open Space

Creating Affordable and Attractive Neighborhoods is a Critical Component of Mayor Bloomberg’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan

Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber today joined Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) Co-Chairman Reverend David K. Brawley, Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David J. Burney, FAIA and Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) President and CEO Michael Lappin to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the new Nehemiah Homes located on a 227-acre site in East New York.  Phase One, with 184 units, forms part of a new community that will include a total of 2,219 affordable homes, new streets, sewers and sidewalks, a public school and four parks.  A 620,000-square-foot expansion of the existing Gateway Plaza shopping center is also planned.  Nehemiah Houses at Gateway Estates is the culmination of a more than 20-year-long endeavor to transform a former landfill into new a new community.  The creation of affordable housing in neighborhoods across New York City is part of the City'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. Also joining Deputy Mayor Lieber and Commissioner Cestero at the ribbon-cutting were Nehemiah HDFC General Manager Ron Waters, Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of EBC, Nehemiah Homes design architect Alexander Gorlin and Monadnock Construction Senior Vice President Peter Hansen.

“Creating affordable communities and transforming underutilized land into neighborhoods is a critical component of our five borough economic opportunity plan and at Nehemiah Houses we are moving forward on both fronts,” said Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber.  “Where once there was an empty and desolate place, families are now able to access the American Dream and own a home in one of the newest and most exciting communities in New York City.”  

“Today we bear witness to the rise of a new community, and not just any community.” said Commissioner Cestero.  “Nehemiah Spring Creek Homes at Gateway Estates exemplifies our vigorous and comprehensive approach to building thriving neighborhoods, making it a long-term investment in our future. Countless hours of effort by hundreds of the City’s public servants, spurred by the tireless endeavors of dedicated community members and elected officials such as Councilmember Charles Barron.”

Phase I of Nehemiah Spring Creek Homes consists of 117 affordable homes comprised of 184 units, including 69 single-family homes, 29 two-family homes and 19 three-family homes. These homes are affordable to families earning up to 110 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).  Eighty-eight homeowners in Phase 1 have closed on their homes and families began move-in in December 2008.  Alexander Gorlin Architects designed the homes as modern interpretations of the traditional New York brownstone.

The Nehemiah Spring Creek Homes at Gateway Estates is being developed over five phases.  When complete, there will be 2,219 units of housing, in a combination of one-, two-, and three-family homes, 90 eight-unit buildings.  It will also include nine mixed-use buildings along Elton Street with 80 units of housing for seniors.  All of the homes are priced to be affordable to households earning up to 110 percent of AMI.

"When we began the EBC Nehemiah effort, nearly 25 years, New York City was in crisis -- losing buildings to arson and people to the suburbs,” said EBC Co-Chairman Reverend David K. Brawley.  “We created an approach to rebuilding our neighborhoods -- and many other city neighborhoods -- that has withstood the test of time and that applies to the current crisis as much as to the crisis of the early 1980's.  That approach depends very much on the financial support and professional assistance of the HPD and other City agencies, as well as the technical assistance and savvy of the Community Preservation Corporation.  It also depends on building homes that are truly affordable, on making sure that credit-worthy buyers are found and on organizing new residents into a force for ongoing change once the homes are completed.  The current single family homes are built at a cost of $204,000 and sold at a price of approximately $150,000.  Working New Yorkers, by the scores of thousands, can afford these homes.  We look forward to working with Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Lieber and HPD Commissioner Cestero to continue to rebuild our city.  In New York, we aren't just 'shovel-ready.'  We are 'shovel-busy.'”

 “CPC is proud to have partnered once again with the City of New York and East Brooklyn Congregations to provide the financing for this wonderful new community within the scenic Gateway parks district,” said CPC President and CEO Mike Lappin.  “We can look back with pride over the 20 years of hard work it took to get us here today.  But even more important, we can look forward 20 years and see a new generation of New Yorkers who will call Nehemiah Spring Creek ‘home.’”

Gateway Estates is a visible example of how a managed development process can spur cooperation among numerous City agencies and its private partners and align interests to achieve the desired outcome—production of quality affordable housing and retail opportunities.  The development includes interior and perimeter parks, providing 47 acres of recreational space for residents and their visitors.   In addition, a high school and intermediate school consolidated into one building is being constructed by the New York City School Construction Authority. 

"The Department of Design and Construction is proud of its role in creating the water main and sewer infrastructure for the City's newest community," said DDC Commissioner David J. Burney, FAIA. "The commitment and coordinated effort among City and private agencies is building new neighborhoods and affordable homes for New Yorkers." 

“We are very excited to be part of the City’s effort in the redevelopment of East New York and Nehemiah’s mission in creating affordable ownership opportunities,” said Peter Hansen, Senior Vice President of Monadnock Construction.  “The Nehemiah Spring Creek Phase I homes are fireproof steel and concrete modular structures prefabricated by our sister company Capsys located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Capsys has built over 800 Nehemiah homes in East New York and we are in the final stages of completing an additional 116 one and two family homes for Phase 2.  Today’s celebration recognizes the first milestone in the Nehemiah Spring Creek at Gateway Estates,  but more importantly, the ribbon cutting of homes made affordable to hard working New Yorkers.“

EBC chose the name “Nehemiah” after the Old Testament prophet who rebuilt Jerusalem.  The Nehemiah housing movement is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and developed in the 1980s in East New York, Brownsville and Bushwick.  Nehemiah HDFC is the housing affiliate for EBC. IAF helped organize the EBC, a consortium of over thirty congregations, in 1980 at the invitation of a group of African American ministers and white Lutheran and Roman Catholic clerics. Under HPD’s Brooklyn Nehemiah Program, the Agency has worked with EBC over the past 15 years to construct nearly 3,000 single-family homes in the East New York and Brownsville sections of Brooklyn.

The site was originally tidal wetlands in Jamaica Bay. It was filled in the 1930s during the construction of the Shore Belt Parkway. During the 1940s and 1950s the site was used for disposal of municipal waste, construction debris, tires, metals, and ash. It was capped in the late 1950s with dredged spoils from the Jamaica Bay and by the 1960s the site was filled with refuse and sand. The development site is known as the Fresh Creek Urban Renewal Area; its 1996 Urban Renewal Plan and final Environmental Impact Statement included plans for housing, senior housing, retail, parks, day care, a school and a community facility on approximately 227 acres of undeveloped land. In April 2009, the 1996 plan was amended to permit expansion of the shopping center and an increase in the number of homes to be built.

Phase I’s total development cost is $63.5 million.  The City of New York through HPD, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation, has committed more than $33 million to fund the infrastructure and prepare the site for development. Costs include design and installation of sewers, water mains, streets and sidewalks, soil amendments and trees, traffic signage, pile foundations, methane venting systems in each home and soil remediation.  HPD is also subsidizing the construction of the homes.  CPC provided construction financing totalling $30.1 million and the churches, including the Catholic Diocese, the Lutheran’s Missouri Synod and St. Paul Community Baptist Church of Brooklyn contributed $1.25 million.

“The dream of home ownership is indeed the American Dream, and Nehemiah Spring Creek Homes will provide housing to thousands of New Yorkers in this new community at Gateway Estates also featuring a new school and parkland, as well as a supermarket in the years ahead,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.  “Nehemiah and its partner organizations are literally building the 21st century from the ground up and ensuring that Brooklyn retains the ethnic and economic diversity that defines us.”

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 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 www.nyc.gov/hpd.

East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC)

EBC is made up of 38 congregations, homeowners associations, and schools.  EBC has already built 2,900 Nehemiah homes; sponsors three public high schools; and works on a wide range of issues focused on improving the quality of life in East and Central Brooklyn.  It is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)

CPC, a not-for-profit mortgage lender, has financed over 136,000 housing units with a record investment of over $7 billion during the last 35 years.  CPC partners with leaders in banking, government and the communities it serves to find affordable housing solutions. CPC has 7 locations and is committed to financing affordable housing throughout New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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.




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