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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eric Bederman 212-863-5176
Juliet Morris 212-863-5682



Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 Will Turn Vacant, Crumbling School Building into Affordable Apartments and Community Space for Local Artists and Low-Income Families 

New York, NY - NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua joined Artspace Projects, Inc and Operation Fightback to announce that they have closed on $52.2 million in construction financing for the Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 development. Located at 213 East 99th Street in Manhattan, Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 will add 90 rehabilitated units of affordable housing to the East Harlem community. This project, which will be developed by Artspace and Operation Fightback, will transform a crumbling former school building into affordable low-income rental apartments with a community facility and creative space for the arts. 

Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 is part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP). The NHMP is a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. For every dollar invested by the City, the NHMP has leveraged $3.41 in private funding, amounting to a total commitment to date of more than $19.4 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 131,360 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. More than 44,540 units have been financed in Manhattan. 

“The heart of El Barrio is deeply rooted in its cultural heritage and celebration of the arts. Artspace El Barrio is proof positive that we can work together to create a development that provides much needed affordable housing that also strengthens the artistic ties that bind this community,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “In its new guise as home to local artists and families, this vacant school building will once again enrich the neighborhood. I thank Artspace, Operation Fightback, Council Member Mark-Viverito, and Borough President Stringer for helping us to build a more affordable, sustainable and creative New York.” 

“With its rich Puerto Rican heritage, El Barrio remains one of the most dynamic cultural centers in America,” said Artspace President Kelley Lindquist. “What this project represents is a unity of purpose among political, civic and community leaders to ensure El Barrio’s cultural assets remain a part of the community's great future. We are honored to be part of a project that will create jobs today and foster new opportunities for decades to come.” 

"The El Barrio's Artspace is an exciting and innovative project that I am proud to have supported since the very beginning," said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.  "El Barrio's Artspace will solidify our neighborhood's status as a vibrant cultural community that welcomes and celebrates the contributions of local artists, while making sure they can remain in our community.  I am so grateful for the tireless work of Artspace and El Barrio's Operation Fightback, as well as Commissioner Wambua and all of the staff at HPD who have helped us arrive at this moment." 

When complete, the five-story building will contain 90 affordable apartments. Eighteen of the apartments will be available to low-income families earning no more than 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or what is equivalent to a household income of $24,900 for a family of four. Seventy-one of the apartments will be available for low-income families earning no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or what is equivalent to a household income of $49,800 for a family of four. There will be one apartment reserved for the building’s superintendent. The unit distribution will include 50 studios, 18 one-bedroom apartments, and 21 two-bedroom apartments. It is anticipated that construction will be complete in June of 2014. 

In additional to the 92,580 gross square feet of residential space, Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 development will include approximately 12,997 gross square-feet of community space.  The community space will house gallery space, performance space, and not-for-profit office space. 

Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 will also incorporate green building practices and amenities consistent with the City’s mission to produce affordable, healthy and sustainable housing.  The project will be certified through Enterprise Green Communities.  In addition, P.S. 109 will have a high efficient boiler system, motion sensors for lights in the common areas. The development will also feature Energy Star appliances, NYSERDA approved fixtures and energy efficient windows and skylights. 

The total development cost for the Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 project is $52.2 million. Capital One is providing a $15.8 million construction loan. In addition to providing the land for this project, HPD is providing $3.4 million in city capital funding and $1 million in Community Benefits Fund Proceeds. The project will receive construction funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in the amount of $3.5 million, $1.75 million from Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, and $1 million from Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. Raymond James will act as a syndicator for over $24.8 million in Tax Credit Equity. 

HPD requires that subsidized apartments be rented through an Open Lottery System to ensure fair and equitable distribution of housing to eligible applicants. Marketing of the apartments and the application process for the Lottery typically begin when construction is approximately 70 percent complete. The application process for Artspace El Barrio @ P.S. 109 is currently not open as construction has yet to start. For more information regarding the lottery process, current housing lotteries, how to apply to an open lottery, and if you would like to receive an e-mail when HPD has updated its website concerning available apartment and home listings for City-subsidized housing in the five boroughs, please visit the Apartment Seekers and Homebuyers pages at

The project involves the adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of P.S. 109, a National Register designated former school building into living and working spaces for artists.  While applications will be accepted from all potential tenants who are eligible, there will be a marketing preference that will target local artists. 


 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 the close of the 2014 fiscal year. Since the plan’s inception, more than 130,700 affordable homes have been financed. For more information, visit 

About Artspace Projects, Inc:

Artspace’s mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. It pursues this mission through development projects, asset management activities, consulting services, and community-building activities that serve artists and arts organizations of all disciplines, cultures, and economic circumstances. By creating this space, Artspace supports the continued professional growth of artists, and enhances the cultural and economic vitality of the surrounding communities. For additional information, visit: 

 About Operation Fightback:

 Operation Fightback began in 1983 when a group of East Harlem residents decided to take action against drug dealing in their building. After a long court battle the tenants prevailed, and today their building is a low income co-op owned by the tenants. During the mid 1980s, most of the organization’s housing efforts focused on tenants rights, tenant organizing, building crisis intervention, and housing advocacy.  For additional information, visit: here.


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