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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eric Bederman (HPD) 212-863-5176


THE FORTUNE SOCIETY CELEBRATES THE GRAND OPENING OF CASTLE GARDENS-BRINGING AFFORDABLE, SUPPORTIVE, ECO-FRIENDLY APARTMENTS TO HARLEM

Mayor Bloomberg Presents Apartment Keys to New Residents Including Formally Incarcerated Individuals and Low Income Families

NEW YORK - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined The Fortune Society, Jonathan Rose Companies, and federal, state and local officials in celebrating the opening of Fortune’s “Castle Gardens,” a mixed-use affordable, supportive and green apartment complex in West Harlem. Located at 625 West 140th Street , the new 110,000 square-foot building will provide 114 apartments for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and low income families from the local community. The Fortune Society is one of the most respected and effective alternative to incarceration and reentry agencies in the country.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg marked the milestone by presenting apartment keys to residents and welcoming them to their new home.

Castle Gardens was developed under Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) to finance the creation and preservation of 165,000 affordable homes by 2014. Under the NHMP, launched by the Bloomberg Administration in 2003, New York City has already invested more than $4.5 billion and HDC has issued more than $5 billion in bonds to finance more than 108,000 homes on the way to the Plan’s target of 165,000 units. Through supportive housing initiatives such as New York/New York III and High Needs 2, the City has financed nearly 3,100 units of supportive housing since 2005. Overall, the Plan has financed 2,442 affordable units in Community District 9 where Castle Gardens is located.

In addition to providing, 114 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, Castle Gardens also offers a computer lab, Wi-Fi, library, community room, landscaped roof terraces and play area and a 25,000 square foot Service Center that will provide all residents with counseling services, case management, financial planning and other essential life skill development courses.  Local community groups are also welcomed to use the common spaces for meeting and events.

The Fortune Society created Castle Gardens with the goal of providing a living environment that promotes safe and sober socialization for its clients who strive to successfully reintegrate into society and for hard working families with limited income.

By providing supportive and affordable housing and essential services at the same site, Castle Gardens creates long-term housing solutions for people with histories of homelessness and incarceration, and their families. Monthly rents range from a low of $624 for a studio up to a high of $1127 for a three-bedroom apartment. Eligibility for the low-income residents is 60 percent (or less) of the area median income of the local neighborhood.

Fifty apartments will be occupied by Fortune clients, while the balance will be set aside for local families.

The property will be managed by Phipps Housing Services, Inc. The newly hired superintendent – a superb handyman -- is a former Fortune client.

“If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere, but sometimes you need a second chance to get your priorities back on track,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The City of New York is proud to partner with the Fortune Society and Jonathan Rose Companies to help create this wonderful affordable development to provide people who have had difficult pasts with the tools and opportunity to build bright, productive futures. Similarly, Castle Gardens is a project that represents the City’s recovery – a critical piece in our comprehensive strategy to get things back on track in these difficult times. By making smart investments in our city we can at once create new jobs, new economic opportunities, and a more affordable and sustainable New York.”

JoAnne Page, president and CEO of The Fortune Society said, “Today is a very proud day for all of us here at The Fortune Society.  The Castle Gardens is a vision realized.  This is a place of real hope. It is a place where dreams will be made, where families will thrive, and, make no mistake, where lives will be saved.

“This extraordinary accomplishment could not have happened without the support of so many. Mayor Bloomberg, thank you for standing with us every step of the way. Jonathan Rose, your commitment to this project has been nothing less than inspiring.  And to all of our supporters and friends, and especially our funders at the federal state and local levels, your investment in this project is truly an investment in the lives of the hundreds of families who will live and succeed here.  For this, we are deeply grateful,” she added.

Betty P. Rauch, Chairman of The Fortune Society said, “JoAnne Page has devoted her entire life to standing up for the rights of others. Her 20-year stewardship at The Fortune Society is marked by excellence and creative leadership.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Castle Gardens. Five years ago when her dream was to create a mixed-used supportive housing complex where people who had served time in prison would live side by side with members of the community, she was met with some skepticism.  But today, the entire City has embraced this project and recognizes it as a national model. The Board would like to congratulate JoAnne on this accomplishment; and also thank our generous supporters for sharing in her vision.”

As co-developer, Jonathan Rose Companies managed the construction of the project. Castle Gardens is a LEED certified, environmentally-friendly building that includes an energy-efficient green design leading to significant health benefits and cost savings. The building features an extensive green rooftop garden and rain harvesting system which will allow residents to take advantage of views of the Hudson River. The building also includes aluminum solar shades blocking the intense summer sun and keeping apartments cool, green paints, sealants and cabinetry that are free of toxic ingredients, a high-efficiency boiler and energy efficient appliances and lighting.

“Jonathan Rose Companies is proud to celebrate the opening of Castle Gardens with the Fortune Society and our public and private partners.  Castle Gardens is a model of green supportive housing, providing homes and new opportunities for Harlem residents and formerly homeless individuals and families,” said Jonathan Rose, President of Jonathan Rose Companies.

“The necessity of an environment that offers stability and a sense of community are essential when you are striving to lift yourself up and make a fresh start. Castle Gardens will be that touchstone, offering a safe and affordable place to live, and the services and assistance these individuals need in order to begin the next chapter of their lives,” said HPD Commissioner Cestero. “Affordable, green, attractive, and supportive – this is the present and future of affordable housing in New York City. We could not have achieved this without the vision and dedication of the Fortune Society and Jonathan Rose Companies, the leadership of our mayor, and the support of our public and private partners.”

Significant financing sources – public and private – include $11.3 million through HPD’s Supportive Housing Loan Program which includes $2 million from the New York City Council and $1 million from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office; $250,000 from Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City; a $3.6 million first mortgage, $4 million low-interest second mortgage, tax exempt bond financing and Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA); $5.5 million loan from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance through the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP); $289,390 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; Hudson Housing Capital is the tax credit syndicator and Capital One Bank invested $16,060,594 in equity for those credits; Carver Savings Bank is administering the $1.5 million in Affordable Housing Program funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; $50,000 from Enterprise Green Communities, along with predevelopment funding by both Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

Ms. Page also noted Fortune’s deep appreciation to Capital One Bank for providing the funding for today’s grand opening celebrations.

Capital One Bank Head of Community Development Banking Dorothy Broadman said, “Capital One Bank has committed to invest $38 million in specialized financing toward this development, and we are extremely proud to be a part of the collaborative effort that has made Castle Gardens a reality. By combining safe, affordable housing with supportive social services in a beautiful building that embraces environmentally sustainable design practices, Castle Gardens is a truly a beacon of the myriad benefits that high-quality affordable housing can bring for both its residents and the entire community at large.”

Also on hand for today’s celebration were event-emcee and  Chairman of The Fortune Society’s Board of Directors, Betty P. Rauch, Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Councilman Robert Jackson, Commissioner of New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Rafael Cestero, Executive Deputy Commissioner of New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Elizabeth R. Berlin, President and CEO of New York State Housing Finance Agency Brian E. Lawlor, Senior Vice President Head of Member Services for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Paul Héroux, Community Board #9 Chair Larry English, Managing Vice President of Capital One Community Development Banking Dorothy Broadman and CEO of Hudson Housing Capital John S. Zeiler. 

The Castle Garden Complex is adjacent to the Fortune Academy – also known as “The Castle.”  Fortune acquired the property – the former St. Walburga’s Academy, a long abandoned building overlooking the Hudson River – in 1998 and transformed the historic structure in Fortune Academy. Opened in 2002, sixty two formerly incarcerated men and women reside at “The Castle” which offers emergency and longer-term housing for individuals seeking to successfully re-enter society.

The Fortune Society believes – and research has shown – that without immediate help in the form of supportive housing, these individuals are at risk of returning to jail or prison within the first month after release. Living in a home that’s safe and stable in a building that offers social services as well can make all the difference during that transition time.

Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President said, “I am honored to have supported The Fortune Society in their efforts to make Castle Gardens a reality. This complex is a symbol for what we can achieve when we set our standards high and work together to enhance the livelihoods of our city’s most disadvantaged residents.”

Assemblyman Keith Wright of Harlem, Chairman of the New York State Assembly Social Services Committee said, "For the last forty-three years, The Fortune Society has been an indisputable ally to the people and neighborhoods of Harlem. Through their alternatives to incarceration programs, their community-based re-entry process, and their longstanding history of social service provision to the most vulnerable citizenry of New York, they have exemplified what it truly means to be a leader in the New York City non-profit community. With the grand opening of the Castle Gardens affordable housing development and service center, we see yet again the dedication of this organization to the population which it serves and to the neighborhoods in which it operates. I am proud to stand alongside The Fortune Society as we commemorate this soon-to-be community hub and I wish all of their new residents the best of luck as they move Harlem forward."

Paul Héroux, Senior Vice President and Head of Member Services for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York said, "As a member of the New York City community, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York is proud to partner with Carver Federal Savings Bank to help support the affordable housing opportunities Castle Gardens will create. We look forward to watching as these new homes further strengthen the New York community." 

Larry English, Chair of Community Board #9 said, "As a criminal defense lawyer who has held the hand of hundreds of young African-American men sent to incarceration mostly for purchasing or selling narcotics, I appreciate the work of The Fortune Society. It is important that organizations like The Fortune Society build bridges back into society for these young men. Their new facility is a visible symbol of that continuing commitment."

Elizabeth Berlin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) said, “These supportive housing units will help ex-offenders address the multiple challenges they face upon re-entering society – lack of a place to live, substance abuse or mental health issues, lack of education and the skills needed to become employed. We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with The Fortune Society, and our other partners on this project, as their track record in helping the formerly incarcerated become productive, contributing members of their communities is unmatched.”

Mark Ginsberg, Castle Gardens architect of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects said, “Last week, I saw a little girl skipping into Castle Garden with a big smile on her face.  That smile is why we do what we do.  We were privileged to work with great organizations, and a team of dedicated professionals and are proud to have completed Castle Gardens, a state of the art, green building that will allow the Fortune Society to do more.” 

Brian E. Lawlor, President and CEO of “nyhomes” and Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal said, “We are very proud to join with the Fortune Society, New York City and the Jonathan Rose Companies in celebrating the opening of Castle Gardens. New York State’s housing agencies are dedicated to financing housing for those most in need and this project is an excellent example of our commitment to provide supportive housing. We are also proud that Castle Gardens includes so many ‘green’ features that make it a model for energy efficient apartment buildings across the city. With the continuing integration of ‘nyhomes’ and DHCR, I am sure that we will be able to provide greater efficiencies to create, preserve and promote affordable housing in New York State.”

John S. Zeiler, CEO of Hudson Housing Capital said, "This project closed in late 2008 when our investor - Capital One - was one of only a handful of banks even buying tax credits.  Closing on a unique mixed tenancy project such as the Castle Gardens in such a challenging financing environment and standing here today at the Grand Opening is really a testament to the tenacity of JoAnne Page and Jonathan Rose and the foresight and commitment of the financing team."

Carl Dukes, client of The Fortune Society and Castle Gardens resident said, “It’s a great opportunity to live at Castle Gardens and be a part of the Fortune family. Castle Gardens gives me a chance to focus on what I need to do to build a successful future. After being in prison for 31 years, it’s a challenge to get back on my feet and rebuild my life. The Fortune Society has really helped me in that process and I thank them for all of their support.”

Jesus Ramos, Castle Gardens Affordable Housing Resident said, “I thank The Fortune Society for giving me and my family this wonderful opportunity. Before moving into Castle Gardens, we were living in a five floor, one bedroom walk up and struggled to make ends meet. My son didn’t even have his own room. Now, thanks to The Fortune Society, we have a beautiful two bedroom apartment and an elevator in the building. We are so happy and are looking forward to our bright future in our new home.”

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About Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan:

New York City’s affordable housing program to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing — enough to house half a million New Yorkers — is the most ambitious and productive in the nation—creating housing as well as jobs for New Yorkers. In April, 2010 the City reached the critical benchmark of 100,000 units financed—representing an investment of $4.5 billion to date by the City, not including roughly $5 billion in bonds issued by HDC.

Led by HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, the Plan has been recast to maintain production momentum while confronting head-on the economic challenges facing the City, the State, the housing industry, the financial sector and individual New Yorkers and their families. In order to fulfill the NHMP goal of 165,000 units, HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are responding to market realities and focusing on three primary goals: strengthening neighborhoods, expanding the supply of affordable and sustainable housing and stabilizing families by keeping them in their homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/about/plan.html.  

About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation or 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 108,000 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.  

About The Fortune Society:

For nearly forty years, The Fortune Society has been developing model programs that help former prisoners successfully re-enter their communities.  The Fortune Society offers a holistic and integrated “one-stop-shopping” model of service provision. Among the services offered are outpatient substance abuse treatment, alternatives to incarceration, HIV/AIDS services, career development and job retention, education, family services, drop in services and supportive housing as well as ongoing access to aftercare.  For more information, visit www.fortunesociety.org.

About Jonathan Rose Companies:

Jonathan Rose Companies LLC is a multidisciplinary planning, project management, development, acquisitions and asset management firm whose mission is to repair the fabric of communities. The firm works with cities, not-for-profit organizations and private clients to define planning objectives and develop creative solutions to real estate challenges. Jonathan Rose Companies has primary presences on the East Coast, in the Southwest, and in the Rocky Mountain region. For more information, visit www.rosecompanies.com.




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