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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eric Bederman (HPD) 212-863-5176
Christina Sanchez (HDC) 212-227-2644


HPD COMMISSIONER WAMBUA, HDC PRESIDENT JAHR, AND DDC COMMISSIONER BURNEY JOIN BLUESEA DEVELOPMENT AND HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – NEW YORK CITY TO CUT RIBBON AT NEW AFFORDABLE CO-OP IN THE SOUTH BRONX

The Melody, Named in Honor of the Neighborhood’s Musical Legacy, Is the First Residential Building to Open that Uses the LEED Green Buildings Innovation Credit for Physical Activity

 Bronx, NY – NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner (HPD) Mathew M. Wambua; NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr; Les Bluestone, Principal of the Blue Sea Development Company; and Habitat-NYC Executive Director Josh Lockwood joined today to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for The Melody, a new affordable co-op located at 853 Macy Place in the Longwood section of the Bronx. Sixty-three low- and moderate-income families in the South Bronx will get a double dose of healthy living and an opportunity to become homeowners in a building that is both green and promotes an active lifestyle. Habitat-NYC families will occupy fourteen of the homes. These future homeowners, working with Habitat volunteers, helped to construct the interiors of their units. 

Other key partners who were in attendance included Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President; Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of NYS Homes and Community Renewal (RCR); David J. Burney, FAIA, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC); and Mark Naison, Chair of African American Studies, Fordham University. 

The Melody was named in honor of the neighborhood’s musical legacy, which nurtured jazz, mambo, doo wop, rhythm and blues, salsa, Latin soul and hip hop. Through the years, local clubs provided venues for many famous artists, ranging from Machito to Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis, the Chantels, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Nancy Wilson to Grandmaster Flash. The building’s public spaces are decorated with artwork by Beatrice Coron celebrating the area’s music history. 

These new homes sit on land formerly owned by the City of New York, and awarded through HPD’s Cornerstone program. The Melody was developed under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), an $8.4 billion initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014. To date, the plan has funded the creation or preservation of 113,131 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs; more than 3,850 of those units are in Bronx Community Board 2 where The Melody is located.                                                                                                                                       

HPD Commissioner Wambua said: “This building, and others like it, is here because of a strong partnership among developers, advocates, financers and the city. But in all honesty, we would not be standing here were it not for the strong commitment of our Mayor to the creating and preservation of affordable housing.This building offers new life to this community – and the opportunity of home ownership. The families who will live here will remember a vibrant and growing community – a good place for kids to thrive and to call home. The Melody salutes the past – and it exemplifies our vision of hope for the future. Who knows: the next Miles Davis or Grandmaster Flash may be growing up within these walls!”  

HDC President Jahr said: “The Bronx has experienced a remarkable rebirth. Not too long ago, the creation of cooperative homeownership opportunities here in The Bronx would have been unthinkable.Thanks to the efforts of many partners, this is no longer the case. Today, the Melody is joining the roster of the eight other affordable co-ops we have helped to finance in The Bronx under the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. And like all of Blue Sea’s developments, it is unique. Blue Sea’s known for respecting the history and culture of the neighborhoods it works in – the Melody, in paying tribute to the rich musical tradition that shaped Longwood and the City of New York, is no exception to that rule. 

Les Bluestone, Principal of Blue Sea Development Company, said, “Blue Sea is committed to providing high-quality housing that is affordable, sustainable and healthy. We are grateful for the support of our many partners who helped make this vision for The Melody a reality, including Habitat-NYC, HPD, HDC, HCR and our Bronx elected officials, to name just a few." 

Josh Lockwood, Executive Director of Habitat-NYC, said: “Habitat-NYC is working to build more homes than every before for hardworking New York City families in need. We are proud to be a part of this incredible building, which will transform so many lives in the South Bronx. We thank Les Bluestone for including Habitat-NYC in The Melody and the many partners, funders and volunteers who helped create these homes.” 

The Melody is an eight-story building with 63 affordable homeownership units, including six one-bedroom units, 47 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units, parking for 16 vehicles and a fully equipped fitness center. Fourteen units are designated for families earning not more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) and 48 units for families earning up to 110% of AMI, with income affordability ranging from $34,916 to $89,237. 

Built to LEED Platinum and ENERGY STAR® green standards, The Melody is also the first residential building in New York City to open that uses the LEED Innovation Credit for Physical Activity presented in the NYC Active Design Guidelines (www.nyc.gov/adg), which encourage physical activity and health. It includes a fully equipped fitness center, outdoor exercise path with fitness stations, children’s climbing and active play area, and prominent stairs and bicycle storage facilities. 

DDC Commissioner David J. Burney, FAIA, said: "A purpose of the Active Design Guidelines is to promote physical activity and good health by incorporating sound, sustainable and practical elements in design. The Melody strikes just the right chord. Les Bluestone is an extraordinarily enlightened developer. Blue Sea Development Company and Habitat for Humanity have created beautiful new homes, which will serve as an example to others that great architecture and healthy design can be accomplished within modest budgets."      

Commissioner Thomas Farley of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said: "Obesity and the Type 2 Diabetes are two health problems that are on the rise in New York City. The South Bronx has particularly high rates of both conditions. Building design that promotes activity can play an important role in supporting the health of New Yorkers and help to decrease their risk for obesity, diabetes and other health problems that may result from physical inactivity.  Accessible and prominently placed stairs, bicycle storage facilities, and fitness and play facilities for adults and children in residential and other buildings are great ways to build exercise into everyday living." 

Darryl C. Towns, HCR Commissioner/CEO, said, “Developments like The Melody, which transformed a former brownfield site into a beautiful cornerstone of the neighborhood, are a priority for NYS Homes and Community Renewal; and projects like this can only be accomplished with strong partnerships. So I’d like to thank and congratulate HCR’s partners, including Habitat for Humanity – New York City, Blue Sea Development, the NYC Housing Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. We at HCR are very proud to have provided funding through the Affordable Housing Corporation as well as financing through the State of New York Mortgage Agency.”                                                                                                                                               

This healthy, environmentally sustainable building stands on a former brownfield site. 

Among its many unique attributes, The Melody boasts: 

  • LEED Platinum and ENERGY STAR®  standards, featuring highly efficient heating and mechanical systems
  • Co-generation system that produces electricity and hot water
  • Healthy indoor environment through non-toxic materials and controlled filtered ventilation systems
  • Active living components, including fully equipped indoor and outdoor fitness centers, bicycle storage, children’s climbing and play area and prominent stairs.
  • Decorative ironwork and lobby art pieces honoring the community’s musical legacy by artist Béatrice Coron

 The Melody employed ex-offenders through Wildcate Service Corps to help build the project and provided construction job training for graduates from Harlem Congregational Communities. 

In addition to conveying land for the project, HPD contributed $1.8 million in City Capital funds for the construction phase of The Melody. HDC issued approximately $8.7 million dollars in tax exempt bond financing and loaned $4.1 million of its corporate reserve funds through its Affordable Co-op Program. The NYS Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) provided $2.1 million, the Bronx Borough President’s office provided $642,000 in Reso A funding, and an additional $265,288 was provided by NYSERDA. 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “I am proud to be financially supporting this homeownership development, which is reflective of the borough’s continuing progress. I am further impressed by this co-op’s affordability to Bronx residents and Habitat for Humanity’s important participation in this project. With The Melody, we celebrate the Bronx’s rich musical heritage while incorporating decorative elements that will help beautify the entire neighborhood. I am also proud of this building’s exemplary green design, which is required to receive funding from my office; as well as Active Design Guidelines that are part of this project, which will promote physical fitness.This is a model for all development, not only in the Bronx but in the entire city.” 

Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said: “I commend Blue Sea Development for its commitment to energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable construction, which is good for our economy, environment and energy security. NYSERDA is proud to be a partner in this project, and we’re ready to participate in more projects throughout New York City that will help achieve Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious energy and environmental goals.” 

Mark Naison, Chair of African American Studies and Co-director of the Urban Studies Program at Fordham University, discussed the musical legacy of the community. “Betweeen 1940 and 1980, the neighborhoods surrounding The Melody – Morrisania and Hunts Point – became a site of extraordinary musical creativity,” he said. 

Some of the famous artists performing or living in these neighborhoods included: Machito, Mario Bauza and Arsenio Rodriguez; Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Nancy Wilson; the Chords, the Chantels and Ashford and Simpson; Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Mongo Santamaria, and later, during the hip hop years, Grandmaster Flash and the Cold Crush Brothers. 

“As people whose origins were in the West Indies, the American South and Puerto Rico moved into the community from Harlem, they brought musical traditions that flourished, and ultimately blended, in this little corner of the South East Bronx,” Naison continued. “Played in venues like Club 845, the Tropicana and the Hunts Point Palace, sung on street corners and building hallways, and nurtured in local schools, this outpouring of musical creativity took forms as varied as mambo, bebop, rhythm and blues, and later salsa, Latin soul and hip hop. 

“The music of this community made its way into recordings and brought joy to people around the globe,” Naison said. 

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 of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 100,000 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd 

About NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC)

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit created in 1971 to provide a variety of tax-exempt bond financing programs for the creation and preservation of multi-family affordable housing throughout the five boroughs of New York City. In partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HDC is working to carry out Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace plan. Since the plan launched in 2004, HDC has financed more than 45,000 homes for low-, moderate-, and middle-income New Yorkers. HDC is rated AA by S&P and Aa2 by Moody’s. 

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.

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.shtml.

 About Blue Sea Development Company

Committed to the mission of green and sustainable communities and homes, the Blue Sea Development Company partners have developed thousands of units of affordable housing over the past 30 years, building the first affordable Energy Star (2002), LEED Silver (2007), and LEED Platinum (2009 and 2010) affordable housing developments in New York State. Other current green developments include a new affordable rental building that incorporates a rooftop urban farm to grow fresh healthy produce for distribution to its Bronx neighborhood.

 About Habitat for Humanity – New York City 

Habitat for Humanity - New York City transforms lives and our city by building quality homes for families in need and by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of affordable housing. With the help of thousands of volunteers every year, Habitat-NYC has built more than 220 affordable homes in the five boroughs of New York City. Learn more at www.habitatnyc.org.  

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