Courtesy Fairstead

The Park 79 senior housing development has lived an interesting life. The historic New York City building was built over a century ago in 1899 as a single-room occupancy building called The Indiana.

Eventually, it was bought and turned into a hotel—and an illegal one at that. The city eventually caught wind and shut down the operation.

Courtesy Fairstead

But what was the hotel owner’s loss was a win for local seniors. After a $60 million renovation, the now 78-unit Upper West Side building houses in-need seniors, half of whom were formerly homeless. Residents come from a city lottery and pay no more than 30% of their income on rent.

“At Park 79, seniors are now able to live in a deeply affordable home on the Upper West Side, steps away from Central Park, museums, and more,” says Jeffrey Goldberg, CEO of developer Fairstead. “This development was a tremendous undertaking: a sustainable top-to-bottom rehab of a historic property that was started at the beginning of the pandemic.”

He’s right about the top-to-bottom transformation. Though the building still boasts the same historic facade, not to mention the lobby’s original fireplace, Park 79's inside was converted into a nearly all-electric building. It also boasts mobility and accessibility features, a communal kitchen, indoor and outdoor socialization spaces, and a community room.

There are two on-site social workers, plus an array of community events, educational classes, supportive counseling services, community-building activities, and recreational activities—provided by nonprofit partner Project FIND—all aimed at reducing senior isolation and improving residents’ overall quality of life.

As Brett Meringoff, managing partner of development at Fairstead, puts it, “Residents can age in place with dignity.”