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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Juliet Morris 212-863-5682


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

New York, NY - Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua and project developers Artspace Projects, Inc and Operation Fightback celebrated the beginning of construction for the new Artspace P.S. 109 development located at 215 East 99th Street in East Harlem. Artspace P.S. 109 will bring 90 newly constructed units of affordable rental housing to the neighborhood, and create approximately 300 construction related jobs. The development will also provide the community with a new art gallery, community space, community kitchen and garden. The Artspace P.S. 109 development will transform an underutilized former school building into a green model of urban community revitalization that integrates affordable housing and cultural resources to enrich the neighborhood. 

Artspace P.S. 109 is being developed as 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 Plan has leveraged $3.41 in private funding for a total commitment of more than $19.4 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 143,138 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with more than 47,949 units financed in Manhattan. The property is also enrolled in the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program, administered by the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. The program helps land owners and developers clean contaminated properties for redevelopment and is a part of the Mayor’s long-term sustainability initiative, PlaNYC. 

“It is important to nurture the soul of a community and there are few better ways to do so than by fostering the spirit of the arts,” said Commissioner Wambua. “Artspace El Barrio P.S. 109, will transform this shell of a building into a destination for the neighborhood that will provide much-needed affordable housing with an unalterable tie to the arts. This development would not be possible without a unique and wide-reaching partnership that harnesses the public, private and non-profit sectors. I thank Mayor Bloomberg for his commitment to the arts and affordable housing. We look forward to the opening of this impressive development.” 

“As an organization dedicated to creating and preserving affordable space for artists, we’re thrilled to start work on our first project in New York City, where artists and cultural organizations face tremendous pressure to balance the creative inspiration of New York with the high cost of housing and studio space,” said Artspace President Kelley Lindquist. “We’re tremendously grateful to our partners in New York and look forward to joining them at the opening ceremony when the project is completed.” 

When complete, Artspace P.S. 109 will be five stories with 90 affordable apartments with a preference for local artists. Of the total apartments, 18 units will be set at 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) ($33,200 for a family of four) and, 71 units will be set at 60 percent AMI ($49,800 for a family of four). One unit will be set aside for an onsite 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 the summer of 2014. 

“I could not be more excited for the groundbreaking of El Barrio's Artspace,” said New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This innovative project will help solidify El Barrio/East Harlem's place as a cultural destination that celebrates the arts and the incredible contributions that artists make to our community. It has been a long journey to arrive at this moment. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua, all of the private foundations involved and of course Artspace and El Barrio's Operation Fightback, for the incredible amount of work that has been put into this project and securing all the necessary resources to begin construction. I look forward to seeing the revitalization of this beautiful building, which will be a thriving center of cultural activity and an economic engine in our community." 

In addition 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. 

In keeping with the City’s commitment to sustainable urban development, Artspace P.S. 109 will also incorporate green building practices and amenities including a community garden, a community kitchen and a farmer’s market. 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. 

The City of New York 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 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 143,138 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:   

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