Two adjacent sites in the South Bronx have been transformed into a vibrant affordable housing community with 106 units for low-income households.
Developer YTM, Ltd., combined two lots—a small private site acquired through the auction block and the other one of the last vacant city-owned parcels in the Grand Concourse corridor—to create East Clarke Place Court, which is sponsored by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York Housing Partnership.
“At the time, the administration was pro building on a private site along with a public site to create the affordable housing, which is really the underlying goal of this project,” says Sam Love, president of SLA, Inc., an affordable housing consulting company, and project manager.
By combining the lots, the development team was able to make a bigger impact by including more units, providing more amenities, sharing resources, and creating an efficiency of scale to keep the costs down.
“The initial wisdom in combining these sites was really responsible,” says Peter Bafitis, AIA, managing partner at RKTB Architects. “It’s a great example of a successful public-private partnership.”
East Clarke Place Court includes an 11-story building with 73 units, a 13-story building with 33 units, underground parking, and a landscaped courtyard between the two buildings. The buildings also share amenities including a recreation room for residents, laundry, bike rooms, and community facility space.
“Great care was taken to provide a level of livability in this complex that you normally would not find,” says Bafitis.
The buildings have large bay windows to bring in light and high-quality interior finishes, such as bamboo flooring, ceramic tiles, and custom wood cabinets.
The community also is designed to meet the criteria of the Enterprise Green Communities program. Sustainable features include highly insulated walls, light-colored roofing to reduce heat gain, low-energy heating systems, building systems that monitor energy usage, LED lighting, and recycled and regional building materials.
“With a building like this, which will be held onto for the long term, it more than pays for itself just through reduced operating costs,” adds Bafitis.
Twenty-two of the units serve formerly homeless families, while the remainder serve households earning 60% or less of the area median income.
The development was completed in spring 2014, with 100% occupancy achieved in November. The development team credits property manager Langsam Property Services for qualifying the households from a lottery, which garnered more than 5,000 applications.
The $37.5 million project received support from New York City’s Housing Development Corp. (HDC) and HPD. Developed under HPD’s Low-Income Affordable Marketplace Program, which uses tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction. Citi Community Capital provided the letter of credit for the bonds, and Richman Housing Resources syndicated the 4% low-income housing tax credits.
“When you give someone an apartment, and they walk in there and see something they never dreamt they would have, you are helping to produce a great environment,” says Yechiel Landau, owner of YTM. “People take pride in what they have, and it motivates them to get up in the morning and go out. It’s not just a roof over their head, but it helps build the family and give them the opportunity to accelerate.”