A new vibrant, mixed-use development that is providing much-needed affordable housing, a charter school for underserved students, and nonprofit office space has been built on an underutilized area of a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) site in East Harlem.

Jonathan Rose Cos., Harlem RBI, and Civic Builders partnered to create the East Harlem Center for Living & Learning on the site of George Washington Houses. The development includes the 89-unit Yomo Toro Apartments; the DREAM Charter School; office space for Harlem RBI, which provides inner-city youths with opportunities to play, learn, and grow; and a renovated park adjacent to the site.

The Yomo Toro Apartments, which includes a manager’s unit, serves residents earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income. It received an overwhelming 78,632 applications for the 88 advertised units. A social services specialist visits the building twice a week to work with residents, and in order to encourage exercise and community health, the sustainable building has locked bike storage and a fitness room.

The DREAM Charter School, which previously had been located in the adjacent Public School 38 building, serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is the first new school building to be constructed in East Harlem in almost 50 years and represents a significant investment in the neighborhood youths.

“When a family has stable affordable housing and schools, healthy food [with a farmer’s market on the block], open space and parks, that combination really gives them an opportunity to move forward with their lives,” says Jonathan Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Cos.

The usage of the NYCHA site not only provided needed affordable housing, with 25% of the units leased with preference to public housing residents, and educational opportunities, but it also provides an efficient financing venture for the housing authority, which has been exploring ways to integrate new development on underutilized space to help reduce its operating deficits.

The total development cost for the project was approximately $84 million, including $30 million for the Yomo Toro Apartments. The affordable housing portion was financed through low-income housing tax credit equity provided by Enterprise Community Investment and sourced by JPMorgan Capital Corp., first and second mortgages from the New York City Housing Development Corp. (HDC), a loan from New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Reso A funding from City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“Harnessing underused land on the campus of NYCHA's Washington Houses, East Harlem Center for Living & Learning exemplifies what is possible when multiple city agencies and private and nonprofit partners come together to forge a vision with the community. This dynamic mixed-used development provides much-needed affordable housing, a brand-new school, and new space for Harlem RBI, a local organization that empowers the youth of this community to recognize their full potential,” says Gary Rodney, president of HDC. “HDC is proud to finance dynamic, high-quality affordable housing developments like the East Harlem Center that strengthen our neighborhoods and foster a more sustainable city.”