BRONX, N.Y.—The second phase of Serviam Gardens in the northwest Bronx won't only be serving the area's low- and moderateincome seniors, but it also will be serving as a model “for making green and aff ordable housing one in the same,” says Victoria Shire, deputy director of Enterprise Community Partners' New York office.
In January, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) started to require developers of new aff ordable housing construction and substantial rehab projects funded by the city to attain Enterprise Green Communities Certification, which is the only national green building criteria designed specifi- cally for aff ordable housing.
Serviam Gardens II, developed by Fordham Bedford Housing Corp., is the first city-subsidized aff ordable housing development to be completed using the criteria since the city's green requirements took eff ect.
John Reilly, executive director of Fordham Bedford Housing Corp., says green building has always been a priority for his organization, starting back in the 1980s during renovations of older buildings that had ancient windows and heating systems as well as lead paint issues.
“Because green has gained momentum, it's brought a lot of new products and technologies to the forefront,” Reilly says. “A lot of it is industry standard now, which has really made our buildings healthier and more efficient to run."
Enterprise's Shire adds that creating healthier and sustainable housing is particularly important for the vulnerable seniors population. “We think adopting green standards is not just about reducing utility costs, but also about a healthier life."
Serviam Gardens II, which sits on underutilized land leased from the Ursuline Bedford Park Convent, achieves both energy efficiency and a healthier lifestyle. The buildings feature low-E argon- filled windows; energy-efficient elevators, appliances, and lighting; bamboo flooring; and a usable green roof that includes a rainwater harvesting system, a patio for residents, and an herb garden.
The development features an intergenerational garden designed by landscape design firm Robin Key Landscape Architecture. About 30 residents have been growing their own produce, and it also encourages interaction between the seniors and the students at the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula, a girls' high school on the same site. The project also includes a wellness center with exercise equipment, with many residents participating in yoga classes.
The 158 units at Serviam Gardens II, which were completed in December 2010, serve seniors earning between 28 percent and 80 percent of the area median income and fill a need for this type of housing in the neighborhood. Reilly says the project received more than 5,000 applications, with hundreds of people now on a waiting list.
New York City Housing Development Corp. (HDC) issued tax-exempt bonds worth $23.7 million for the construction financing and provided $8.8 million in additional subsidy, with Chase providing the letter of credit to secure HDC's financing during the construction period. Additional funding for the $47.3 project included $14.4 million in Mixed Income Rental Program funds along with project-based Sec. 8 vouchers to off set rents of 126 units from HPD and $2 million of City Capital Reso A funds from the Bronx Borough President's Office. Enterprise syndicated the project's 4 percent low-income housing tax credits to generate approximately $14.3 million in equity.