Blue Sea & Partners to Build Affordable Housing and Public Housing Units in Brownsville, Brooklyn
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea and New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua today announced the selection of a development team for Prospect Plaza in Ocean Hill-Brownsville in Brooklyn. The agencies have selected Blue Sea Development Company, Pennrose Properties, Duvernay + Brooks, and Rosenberg Housing Group (Blue Sea & Partners) to develop the approximately 200,000 square feet, 4.5-acre area for new, affordable and public housing units. It will be constructed in three phases, creating a total of 364 new housing units, including 80 units of NYCHA public housing, and 284 affordable housing apartments. The project will include a space for a new supermarket, community facility space with a rooftop greenhouse, and a new recreation area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded NYCHA a HOPE VI Grant to revitalize Prospect Plaza. The Program emphasizes partnerships with community residents, other agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses to leverage support and resources. NYCHA will provide $15.5 million in HOPE VI Grant funds for the development of the public housing units at Prospect Plaza.
“Today’s announcement is a key step in fulfilling our promise in our strategic roadmap, Plan NYCHA, to bring a successful execution to the highly anticipated Prospect Plaza development, which includes new units of affordable housing and public housing; commercial space for retail stores; and programs for the surrounding community,” said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. “Through partnership with HPD, we can leverage NYCHA resources to provide housing opportunities for more low-income New Yorkers. I’m very proud of the community engagement of former Prospect Plaza residents and other stakeholders in the development of the new plan. We look forward to the successful revitalization of Prospect Plaza as a model for future redevelopment.”
“During this Administration we have been very successful in using HPD’s pipeline of city-owned land to develop affordable housing. The Mayor’s housing plan has also provided the flexibility to think out-of-the-box to find innovative ways to expand the City’s affordable housing stock beyond our pipeline; our partnership with NYCHA being a key example of this,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “The designation of Blue Sea and Partners is great news for this neighborhood. They bring a history of quality work and knowhow to this project. The development of new housing on this site marks a long-awaited fresh start for the community, and we look forward to finalizing the financing on this development and getting our shovels in the ground.”
Prospect Plaza is being developed under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), a multibillion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year. 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 date, the NHMP has funded the creation or preservation of more than 142,800 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs; 4,408 of those units in Brooklyn Community District 16 where Prospect Plaza is located.
The three development sites are bounded by St. Mark’s Avenue to the north, Saratoga Avenue to the east, Sterling Place to the south, and Howard Avenue to the west. The public housing units will be included in the first two development phases. The third phase will include approximately 22,000 square-feet of ground floor retail space for a supermarket along Saratoga Avenue and the community facility space. All of the affordable rental units will be available to low-income New Yorkers earning not more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or what is equivalent to an annual household income not exceeding $49,800 for a family of four. Former Prospect Plaza residents will receive a preference for the public housing units.
“Blue Sea Partners are thrilled to once again be working with what we feel are the best affordable housing agencies in the country on a development that will transform this area into the thriving community that it once was,” said Les Bluestone, Principal of Blue Sea Development Company. “We are especially grateful to our local elected officials for their support of this affordable housing development which will incorporate energy efficient and sustainable design for the people of New York City.”
- Prospect Plaza South (Phase I) will be a combination of four story walk up, townhouse-style buildings and a five-and-a-half story elevator building. There will be a total of 148 units; 42 NYCHA public housing units and 106 low-income affordable housing units.
- Prospect Plaza North (Phase II) will be a combination of four story walk-up, townhouse-style buildings and a five-and-a-half story elevator building. There will be a total of 111 units; 38 NYCHA public housing units and 73 low-income affordable housing units.
- Saratoga Site (Phase III) will be a four-and -a-half story elevator building organized around a central courtyard. There will be a total of 105 low-income affordable housing units. The supermarket will be located on the ground floor. This site also will include the new community center.
“I applaud HUD and NYCHA for bringing Prospect Plaza to fruition after two and half years of collaborative planning with public housing residents, other government agencies, and elected officials,” said Representative Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn). “This project will revitalize the surrounding community by responding to the need for affordable housing, retail, and open space to provide the residents of Ocean Hill Brownsville with a wide range of services.”
“As a former resident of public housing and an advocate for affordable housing since my earliest days in public life, I am thrilled that the long overdue redevelopment of the Prospect Plaza site will bring 364 affordable and public housing units, along with retail and community space, to Ocean Hill-Brownsville,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. This is a great example of a public-private partnership that solicits community input to find creative ways of re-purposing underused and abandoned space in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Congratulations to Blue Sea Development and kudos to all of the federal and city agencies and partners responsible for helping to assure that Brooklyn’s future is affordable for generations to come.”
The new Community Center will be located at the Saratoga Site and will be approximately 12,000 square-feet, with a 2,000 square-foot greenhouse and green learning center located on the roof. The community center is slated to be operated by Good Shepherd Services (GSS) which will provide a range of services aimed at preventing youth from becoming disconnected from family, school and society. The building will be a stand-alone, two-story structure along Sterling Place, immediately adjacent to the new recreation area, and will be open to all residents of the Prospect Plaza development and the community. The approximately 30,000 square-foot recreation area will be built on the city-owned parcel adjacent to the Saratoga site and the new community center. The Trust for Public Land and landscape architect Ken Smith will lead a participatory planning process with community residents to refine the design of the open space.
Built originally in 1974 by a private developer, Prospect Plaza consisted of four high-rise towers with 365 units situated on three sites. In 2003, the towers were vacated, three for rehabilitation; one tower was demolished in 2005. In 2007, the original HOPE VI Plan was determined to be financially infeasible and NYCHA went back to the drawing board by re-engaging former residents and community members to create a new plan for Prospect Plaza.
The Re-Vision Prospect Plaza Community Plan was developed through a participatory process, including a 3-day community planning workshop held by NYCHA in June 2010. The new plan called for demolition of the remaining vacant towers; construction of low-rise, mixed-use buildings combining public and affordable housing units; ground floor retail space; a community center; and a 30,000 square-foot recreation area on adjacent city-owned land. Demolition of the three Prospect Plaza towers will be completed prior to the conveyance of the sites to the development team.
The partnership of NYCHA and HPD highlights the Bloomberg Administration’s commitment to working across agencies to maximize city resources for the benefit of hardworking New Yorkers. The HPD/NYCHA collaboration has already produced more than 2,000 units with another 2,000 under construction and in pre-development; including Randolph Houses and Prospect Plaza, for a total of approximately 4,000 affordable units.
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About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYCHA provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low and moderate- income residents throughout the five boroughs. To fulfill this mission, NYCHA must preserve its aging housing stock through timely maintenance and modernization of its developments. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. Simultaneously, NYCHA works to enhance the quality of life of its residents by offering opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha
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 142,800 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd
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.