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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Juliet Morris (HPD), morrisj@hpd.nyc.gov


THE BLUESTONE ORGANIZATION, NEW YORK CITY REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE AND GOLDMAN SACHS ANNOUNCE THE START OF CONSTRUCTION ON 161ST STREET APARTMENTS IN JAMAICA, QUEENS

Round One NYCREDC award, New York City, and private investment, will generate over $30 million in local economic activity 

The Bluestone Organization and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council (NYCREDC) today joined with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Members Leroy Comrie and James Gennaro, the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), New York State Homes & Community Renewal and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group to officially break ground on the 161st Street Jamaica Apartments. 

The project is achieving this significant milestone on the strength of public and private investments, including a $3.78 million award it received as part of the first round of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. The funds awarded for the mixed-income development at 90-14 161st Street in downtown Jamaica, Queens will construct 100 homes for families and individuals, include retail space, and generate over $30 million in local economic activity for the region. 

“One of New York City’s top priorities is ensuring our citizens have access to safe, affordable, high quality housing. As we continue to rebuild from the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, developments like the 161st Street Apartments will help stabilize communities and make them vibrant once again,” said Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of CUNY and NYCREDC Co-chair. “Under Governor Cuomo’s exemplary leadership, the New York City Regional Economic Development Council identified the potential of this project and the opportunities it will provide for hundreds of New Yorkers, ensuring hard-working individuals and families have comfortable and affordable housing for many years to come. We thank all of our partners for their support and coming together to move this project forward for the benefit of the people of Queens.” 

The new construction will be developed under 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 $3.42 in additional funding for a total commitment of more than $21 billion to fund the creation or preservation of more than 142,800 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with more than 12,700 units financed in Queens. 

Eric Bluestone, Partner in The Bluestone Organization, said:  “Our family and staff are thrilled to be breaking ground on this exciting new project in Downtown Jamaica.  Providing affordable mixed income housing and economic development opportunities through sustainable and environmentally conscious development has always been our core mission.  Incorporating our new corporate headquarters into this building makes this project especially meaningful, and we look forward to making Downtown Jamaica our new home.” 

“Our aim is to finance the creation of affordable housing in New York City. We work hard to fill the growing need for safe housing that meets the needs of families struggling to make ends meet. It is always a pleasure to work with partners committed to the same effort,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “Today we celebrate the hard work of our team and all of our partners. Because of your efforts, 100 families and individuals will be able to call a new affordable apartment home. Thank you all for your commitment to improving New York City.” 

Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said: “The 161st  Jamaica Apartments are a strategic priority for Governor Cuomo’s NYC Regional Economic Development Council, as they will strengthen the community with jobs and safe, secure affordable housing.  This development progressed rapidly because of the diverse public and private support committed to it. I congratulate Bluestone and all our partners for this vibrant development which strengthens the economy with more than $30 million in economic activity in Southeast Queens.” 

HDC President Marc Jahr said: “Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, the City has been committed to creating much needed affordable housing as New York City continues to grow and diversify. I would like to thank all of our partners, who believe and have the same common goal: keeping New York affordable for our future tenants.” 

The 161st Street Apartments will consist of 100 units in two nine-story elevator serviced towers built over a connecting cellar. There will be a total of seven studios, 72 one-bedroom units and 21 two-bedroom units. 

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said: “This mixed-income development here in downtown Jamaica is an investment in the future and another examples of how the public and private sectors, working together can build attractive, affordable housing and commercial space that not only excites the spirits of those who will occupy these apartments but also renews the entire community. I am delighted that the Bluestone organization itself is so sure of the success of this project that it will locate its corporate headquarters here.  This is a great way for this neighborhood to start off the new year of 2013 and I am happy to have been a supporter of this project.” 

Council Member Leroy Comrie said: “This groundbreaking is just another example of the many great developments occurring in downtown Jamaica. As we look for ways to continue to build more affordable housing units, this project proves how public-private partnerships can help spur economic growth and help Queens’ families. I would like to thank the Bluestone Organization, Borough President Helen Marshall and Council Member James F. Gennaro, and all the other entities for their efforts to make this project possible.”  

Councilman James F. Gennaro said: “This project is an essential part of the resurgence of Jamaica as a place to live, work and shop. By choosing to build their headquarters, 100 residential units and retail space here, The Bluestone Organization has demonstrated their commitment to the economic recovery of Queens. I was happy to allocate funds to this vital development and I thank Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilman Leroy Comrie and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation as well for their strong support.” 

Alicia Glen, Managing Director and Head of the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs, said: “Goldman Sachs is proud to partner with Bluestone and our public sector partners to bring a mix of affordable housing and commercial space to this community. Mixed-income housing is particularly critical in neighborhoods like Jamaica that have experienced rising rents and an influx of new, market-rate housing in recent years.” 

Carlisle Towery, President of Greater Jamaica Development Corp., said:  “Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has been an important part of the revitalization of Jamaica for 45 years.  This project is on a site that is part of GJDC’s two decade old ‘mid-block’ initiative in which we bought abandoned or derelict properties in midblock areas in an effort to stem further deterioration of downtown. The initiative has been a great and welcome success, with more than a dozen key properties adaptively reused and developed, some by local non-profits we sought out to occupy the sites, some by marvelous projects like this one.  The Bluestone Organization is making a very important contribution to the renewal of downtown Jamaica with this project and has doubled down on its commitment by moving its corporate headquarters to the building and the community.” 

The project will include 5,311-square-feet of commercial space, 4,525-square-feet of retail and 51 parking spaces. The project benefits from an Inclusionary Housing bonus as it is located in downtown Jamaica, Queens.  

The total cost of the development is expected to be approximately $32.22 million.  HDC issued $9.16 million in permanent long term tax-exempt bonds and $6.56 million in subsidy under the Corporation’s Mixed-Income Program.  HPD provided approximately $2 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), and HCR provided $3.78 million in State Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (SLIHC). Goldman Sachs is the tax credit investor for this project. Financing also came from additional funding sources –HPD contributed $6 million in 421a funds and also facilitated the $2.3 million in City Capital funded by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and James Gennaro.  The developer is providing $1.15 million of its own equity. The Bluestone Organization purchased the site from the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for $1.6 million in August of 2008.  

The New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal’s Low-Income Housing Credit Program (LIHC) provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax liability for project owners who develop rental housing that serves low-income households with incomes up to 60% of area median income. The amount of LIHC available to project owners is directly related to the number of low-income housing units that they provide. The Housing Trust Fund Program provides funding to eligible applicants to construct low-income housing, rehabilitate vacant, distressed or underutilized residential property, or convert vacant, underutilized non-residential property to residential use by low-income tenants. 

Construction will be completed in approximately two years, with completion anticipated in late 2014 and will provide approximately 174 construction-related job opportunities.  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 161st Street Apartments is not currently open. 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 www.nyc.gov. 

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov. For information on how the New New York is working for business, please visit www.thenewny.com. 

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About The Bluestone Organization:

The Bluestone Organization is a Queens-based third generation family-owned developer of over 4,000 units of housing in the New York City metropolitan area over the past 70 years, including over 2,000 units of work force rental and homeownership housing in conjunction with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, NYC Housing Development Corporation and NYC Housing Partnership, and the NY State Housing Finance Agency, Affordable Housing Corporation and Homes and Community Renewal.  The firm has a proven track record of quality in design and construction, winning many local, state and national awards including most recently, the 2010 New York Housing Conference Private Developer of the Year Award, and The Andrew, recently completed in Rego Park Queens, was designated as “best performing building in a multifamily new construction four stories or greater” by Steven Winter Associates, a leading engineering research firm that specializes in energy efficiency.  For additional information, visit:  http://www.bluestoneorg.com.

About the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC):

HDC provides financing that builds and strengthens neighborhoods. Since 2000, the corporation has issued roughly 10% of all the multifamily housing revenue bonds in the U.S. and since 2003, when Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan was launched, HDC has raised more than $6.7 billion in financing for affordable housing developments, including in excess of $1 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. In Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s annual listing of the nation’s top ten funders of multifamily housing, HDC is the only municipal entity included on the list, and consistently bests many of the largest commercial banks and most statewide Housing Finance Agencies (HFA). This past year, HDC was the fourth largest affordable housing lender in the U.S. after Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, beating out JPMorgan Chase and Capital One. To date, under the Mayor’s plan, HDC has financed the creation or preservation of more than 67,000 affordable units in multifamily buildings that also include 1.7 million square feet of commercial space. For additional information, visit: www.nychdc.com.

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 142,800 affordable homes have been financed. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.

 About New York State Homes and Community Renewal

New York State Homes and Community Renewal consists of all the State’s major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Affordable Housing Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation, and others.

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. Since the plan’s inception, HPD and HDC have financed the creation or preservation of more than 142,800 affordable homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/about/plan.html.

About Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group

Established in 2001, the Urban Investment Group deploys the firm's capital by making investments and loans that benefit urban communities.  Through its comprehensive community development platform, UIG is a catalyst in the revitalization of underserved neighborhoods.  UIG has committed more than $2.4 billion, facilitating the creation and preservation of approximately 12,500 housing units - the majority of which are affordable to low, moderate and middle-income families - as well as over 1,100,000 square feet of community facility space and approximately 1,900,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.

 About Greater Jamaica Development Corporation

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is a community-building organization that plans, promotes, coordinates and advances responsible development to revitalize Jamaica and strengthen the region. Marshaling the resources of the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, the Corporation’s work expands economic opportunity and improves quality of life for the ethnically and economically diverse residents of Jamaica and for the region, which benefits from rational, well-planned and sustainable metropolitan growth.

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