BRONX, N.Y. For Bronx Pro Real Estate Management, it's not just about building an eco-friendly affordable housing development. It's also about creating a community within it and nurturing the neighborhood around it.
The 90-unit 1085 Washington Avenue Apartments brings new housing to the Morrisania neighborhood, which was primarily a manufacturing neighborhood before being rezoned into a mixed-use district in 2003 as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace plan to provide affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers by 2014.
Bronx Pro has a hands-on management team and partners with nonprofi t social service providers to focus on the residents' needs. The developer also is drawing upon its anchor tenant to help build a sense of community. Nonprofit art education provider DreamYard's Art Center provides artistic programs for Bronx public school students and has done outreach with the children in the building.
Peter Magistro, president of Bronx Pro, says he hopes the artwork currently in the building's hallways will be replaced with new art created by the children living in the building.
The Art Center isn't the only creative spot in the building. 1085 Washington features many innovative green elements, including a green roof with an organic garden, birdhouses, and a solarpowered birdbath.
“We're proud of the green roof,” Magistro says. “It's certified as a natural habitat in the Bronx, where there's an environment of bees, birds, and butterflies. It would have been just a flat black roof otherwise.”
The roof was made with recycled content and American-made materials, with the garden's cedar fencing reclaimed from a demolition site in Brooklyn's Bensonhurst neighborhood.
Magistro says the green roof also serves as an important amenity for the residents: a sanctuary from day-to-day life.
The development also is energy-efficient with high-efficiency boilers for heat and hot water, Energy Star appliances, low-e wooden framed windows, and an additional layer of rigid insulation to create a tight building envelope.
Photovoltaic panels provide electricity to the public areas, and solar thermal panels pre-heat the building's domestic hot water supply before it enters the boiler, which helps to reduce utility costs.
Low-flow showerheads and faucets and dual-flush toilets also have been installed to conserve water.
Magistro says the maintenance team is well-versed on the building's green features, and residents go through an orientation about the different elements in their units.
He adds that Bronx Pro tracks the energy consumption on a daily basis for each building and determines what needs to be changed or corrected for maximum efficiency.
“Once you build these properties, it's important to have them sustain themselves,” says Magistro.
The $27 million development was financed with a $13.6 million construction loan, $5.7 million in permanent financing, and $4.95 million in subsidy from the New York City Housing Development Corp. and $4.97 million through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Mixed Income Rental Program.
Enterprise also was a major supporter, providing a $3.4 million acquisition loan, $9.5 million in low-income housing tax credit equity, and a $40,000 Green Communities grant. Banco Popular provided a letter of credit.