Sylvester Zawadzki

The first phase of the Sendero Verde development in East Harlem, New York, is delivering more than just affordable housing to the community.

Taking up nearly a full block, the first phase includes 361 units that serve a mix of incomes: 30% of the units are for extremely low-income households, including many that were formerly homeless; 20% are for families earning less than 50% of the area median income (AMI); and the remainder are affordable to households earning 60%, 80%, and 90% of the AMI.

Sylvester Zawadzki

The $234 million mixed-use development also includes a 12,000-square-foot center for seniors and youth operated by Union Settlement Association, a 51,000-square-foot charter school operated by the Harlem Children's Zone, and an 18,000-square-foot public courtyard that includes outdoor green spaces and community gardens.

“It’s been great to see a brand-new building emerge on this block,” says Jessica Yoon, senior director at L+M Development Partners, which developed the first phase with Jonathan Rose Cos. and Acacia Network. “It accomplishes so much and serves so many purposes. The affordable housing in itself was a huge accomplishment, but to see the other things that serve the community on the block has really been inspiring.”

Sendero Verde also is touted as one of the largest passive house structures in the world. The building is airtight with above-code installation and has triple-glazed windows. It also features solar arrays on top of pergolas on the rooftop so the development team didn’t have to sacrifice a landscaped amenity for residents.The solar array along with Energy Star appliances and LED lights help to reduce residents’ electricity bills.

“Heating and cooling expenses are getting worse each year as the climate is changing,” says Yoon. “We’re trying to reduce the rent burden and utility burden as well as other expenses that eat away at a household income.”

Phase two is under construction. Once complete, Sendero Verde will be home to 709 units of affordable housing.