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New York City and State Officials Join Blue Sea Development to Celebrate the Opening of a New Healthy and Energy-Efficient Affordable Housing Development in the Bronx
Arbor House at NYCHA’s Forest Houses includes 124 Units of Affordable Housing, an Energy Efficient Smart Design and a Rooftop Farm operated by Sky Vegetables
NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr and NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David Burney today joined Blue Sea Development principal Les Bluestone and partner, Avery Seavey, to celebrate the opening of Arbor House. The 124-unit new construction features a living green wall installation in the lobby and a rooftop hydroponic farm that will provide fresh produce for building residents and the local community. The energy-efficient building design has earned the development Platinum LEED Certification, recognition from the American Cancer Society as a ‘Healthy High-Rise’, and a number of other accolades. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and City Council Member Helen Foster were also in attendance.
Arbor House is part of 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. To date, the NHMP has funded the creation or preservation of more than 143,300 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. More than 44,209 units have been created or preserved in the Bronx with more than 6,855 of those units in CB 3. For every dollar invested by the City, the Plan has leveraged $3.43 in additional funding for a total commitment of more than $21 billion.
“The work we do together with HDC and NYCHA has opened up new opportunities to develop privately owned affordable housing while providing much-needed revenue to support public housing,” said Commissioner Wambua. “This building is a spectacular example of what can be built on underused NYCHA property with city subsidy and the backing of the private sector. We place a great deal of emphasis on creating housing that is healthy and sustainable and makes a difference in the quality of the residents’ lives. In Arbor House I think we’ve achieved all these ends, and then some.”
“It’s hard to imagine a building like this being created anywhere else,” said HDC President Jahr. “Beyond the dramatic design and green construction features lies a support infrastructure for the tenants that goes far above and beyond what most would expect in a rental building – affordable or luxury. From the sky farm on the roof to the active design elements and the partnership with Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Arbor House provides a safe, secure and healthy environment for the families who live here.”
“The development of innovated projects such as Arbor House is critical to our strategic roadmap, Plan NYCHA, which outlines our plan to preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers,” said NYCHA’s Chairman John B. Rhea. “Completing this effort on NYCHA property is truly on the vanguard of urban development, and we’re definitely doing our part to improve the lives of not only NYCHA families, but the entire Morrisania community.”
Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) said, “Arbor House is a model of urban innovation which grows the community, grows the economy and grows farm fresh produce in the South Bronx. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership this state of the art affordable housing complex brings healthy green housing and living to the community, with enough fresh vegetables to provide for 450 people annually. I congratulate the 123 low and very low income individuals and families who will have a safe, secure, and ecologically advanced home because of the vision of Blue Sea and our other city and state partners.”
“Arbor House incorporates many design elements from the City’s Active Design Guidelines -including fitness areas and readily-accessible stairways- that will enable residents to incorporate healthy activities into their daily lives. I’d like to congratulate Blue Sea Development, my colleagues in city and state government, and everyone who played a role in creating these sustainable, affordable, and beautiful new homes,” said David J. Burney, FAIA, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction.
“We continue to be thrilled at the amazing revitalization of the South Bronx, And are happy that we’re able play a small part, with the strong support of our City and State partners,” said Les Bluestone of Blue Sea Development. “Arbor House is a continuation of our effort to create healthy and energy-efficient homes for those who need them most, and often time, can afford them least.”
Arbor House is located at 770 East 166th Street at Tinton Avenue in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. The new development was constructed on land within the Forest Houses complex that the developer has purchasedat below market value from NYCHA. The 8-story, 124 unit affordable housing development totals 120,000 square feet. There are 16 studios, 33 one-bedroom units, and 75 two-bedroom units. One apartment is reserved for a superintendent. The apartments have been designated for low-income households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), or $49,800 for a family of four. Twenty-five percent of the total units will have a preference for NYCHA residents and those on NYCHA’s waitlist. In addition, there are approximately 43 sub-level parking spots available on site. Residents have first priority to rent these spaces on a monthly basis.
In addition to providing affordable housing, the facility will provide fresh produce grown in its rooftop hydroponic farm. The farm will be operated by Sky Vegetables, an urban agriculture company based in Boston. Sky Vegetables will oversee a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangement in which residents can purchase shares in what gets produced. Sky Vegetables will make 40% of the produce available to the community through local outreach to schools, hospitals and markets.
"Sky Vegetables is proud to partner with Blue Sea Development and city and state agencies to build one of the most forward and innovative projects in the nation,” said Robert Fireman, President of Sky Vegetables. “Our commercial hydroponic greenhouse on the roof of this most green and environmental sound, affordable housing development will provide this community with fresh, local, chemical free, nutritious herbs, fruits and vegetables twelve months a year, and create a national model for sustainable food production."
The building design features artwork by local children and accomplished artist, Béatrice Coron who designed the decorative metal screens titled ‘Growing Strong’ and incorporated into the fencing and window guards. Coron also designed the ornamental iron work for other Blue Sea Development projects in the South Bronx including The Eltona, The General Colin Powell Apartments, and The Melody. Her work has been featured in notable museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California. Coron’s art can be seen in the NYC MTA system, the North Carolina Airport and a number of other public spaces around the country.
Arbor House has been nationally recognized for its sustainable design and energy efficient attributes. It has received LEED Platinum certification and National Green Building Emerald rating. Building construction primarily used local and recycled products and 95% of construction waste was recycled and diverted from landfills. Arbor House received recognition from the American Cancer Society as a ‘Healthy High-Rise’ in honor of its 100% smoke-free policy. Air quality is further maintained with the use of low and zero VOC paints, adhesives, finishes and sealants and air ventilation and filtration throughout the development. The living green wall in the lobby also provides fresh oxygen. The building meets NYC Active Design Guidelines to promote physical fitness and reduce obesity through indoor and outdoor fitness areas and by encouraging stair use. Due to all of these sustainable features and more, Mount Sinai Hospital selected Arbor House for a study on the effect of healthy living on asthma and obesity.
The total development cost for Arbor House is approximately $37.7 million. HDC provided $3.9 million in tax exempt bonds and $8 million in corporate subsidy. HPD contributed $7.4 million in City Capital. The State’s investment includes: $2.5 million through HCR’s Homes for Working Families (HWF) program and $160,000 provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through its Multifamily Performance Program. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and City Council Member Helen Foster jointly contributed nearly $2 million in Reso A funds. The development received $12.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Equity. RBC Capital Markets acted as Tax Credit Syndicator. J.P. Morgan Chase was Tax Credit Investor.
This development exemplifies the partnership among NYCHA, HPD and HDC and their efforts to make the most of City resources for the benefit of hardworking New Yorkers. The so-called HPD/NYCHA collaboration, launched in 2004 todevelop dilapidated and vacant NYCHA properties into affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, has already produced more than 2,000 units with another 2,000 under construction and in pre-development, including the planned Highbridge Gardens and Soundview Houses, for a total of approximately 4,000 affordable units.
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About the New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR):
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. For more information click: www.nyshcr.org.
About the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC):
Since 2000,HDC 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. This past year, Affordable Housing Finance magazine namedHDC 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 69,000 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 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 143,300 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA):
NYCHAprovides 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 Blue Sea Development:
Committed to building high performance, healthy and sustainable communities and homes, Blue Sea Development Company partners have developed thousands of affordable housing units over the past 30 years, having developed and built the first affordable Energy Star (2002), LEED Silver (2007), and LEED Platinum (2009) affordable housing developments in New York State.
About Sky Vegetables:
Sky Vegetables is an innovative, urban agriculture company dedicated to designing, building, and operating sustainable, commercial-scale hydroponic farms on urban rooftops. Our mission is to improve the health and nutrition of city populations and provide new jobs and educational opportunities through the development of urban sustainable agricultural communities. For more information about Sky Vegetables log on to: http://skyvegetables.com.