May 26, 2022 was a big day for the national trend towards focusing redevelopment and adaptive reuse efforts on the creation of affordable and supportive housing. As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, this is often the most reliable path to revitalizing neighborhoods and downtowns.
That day saw the completion of an $84 million affordable housing development for seniors in the Bronx, New York City.
The same day also saw the start of construction on a $100 million affordable and supportive housing development in Far Rockaway in the neighboring borough of Queens.
The $84 million Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments includes 153 apartments, with 57 apartments reserved for seniors who will have access to on-site supportive services through The Fortune Society.
Dan Moritz, Principal, The Arker Companies, said, “By breaking ground on Edgemere Commons, we are today one step closer to achieving the vision laid out by this community for a revitalized Edgemere, one that generations will be proud to call home. From providing much needed affordable housing, to eradicating a food desert, to bringing jobs, open space, and retail into the peninsula, this community will finally receive the investment it deserves so that Edgemere can thrive.”
Located at 1074 Washington Avenue in the Morrisania neighborhood, the Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments was constructed on land formerly occupied by a vacant United Methodist church.
There are 144 apartments reserved for adults 62 and older with incomes at or below sixty percent of the Area Median Income. Ten apartments are reserved for adults 55 and older.
“My administration will continue to prioritize transformative projects like this one that repurpose unused space to aggressively tackle the housing crisis. Every New Yorker deserves a place to live and the resources they need to thrive – not least of all our seniors and those who were formerly incarcerated,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.
The Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments is part of Governor Hochul’s sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the recently enacted State Budget, the Governor successfully secured a new $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York, including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.
“We are building back New York City more fair and just, and with new homes in the Bronx for formerly incarcerated seniors, this project represents a step in exactly the right direction,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
The Trinity Morrisania Church that once stood on the building’s site was originally constructed in 1865 but had fallen into disrepair. Elements of the former church building have been brought into the new space, including restored stained-glass windows, pews, and other architectural detail that will remind residents of the property’s history.
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Thanks to our partnership with the United Methodist City Society and BronxPro, the Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments gives renewed purpose to an unused church property by creating 153 affordable homes for seniors with the types of on-site supportive services that will help them achieve stability, independence, and better health outcomes. We’re especially grateful for The Fortune Society being an integral part of this development. Their model for assisting formerly incarcerated New Yorkers by providing access to resources and new opportunities, including housing, is critical to our shared mission to make New York a more equitable and inclusive place to live. Our thanks to each of our partners for making this development a reality for the Morrisania neighborhood.”
There are 57 apartments reserved for seniors who were formerly incarcerated. The Fortune Society will provide on-site services to these residents as well as operate a 5,400 square-foot social services space open to the broader community on the building’s ground floor. The satellite location provides counseling, case management, vocational and health-related services to individuals with a criminal justice history.
New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz said, “Moments like this — welcoming New Yorkers to their new affordable homes — are the ultimate goal of our work. Congratulations to United Methodist City Society, the Fortune Society and Bronx Pro Group. The Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments are a much-needed new addition to our city that will not only put a dent in the housing shortage but also ensure that seniors have a home where they can age in place with the dignity they deserve.”
Services and rental subsidies for 47 of the supportive apartments are funded through an Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative award to the Fortune Society. The remaining ten are funded through the New York City 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative.
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. said, “With today’s opening of Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments, we celebrate the homecoming for many our city’s elders, providing more than 150 safe, stable, and healthy homes where they may age peacefully in place. For many new residents, we are reversing the cycle of incarceration and homelessness by providing on-site supportive services that address their full range of needs. This would not be possible without the leadership of partners like the United Methodist City Society, the Fortune Society, and Bronx Pro Group, who ensure New York City’s most vulnerable populations are no longer ignored. Thanks to all the partners and welcome home to the new residents.”
Residential amenities include laundry facilities, a tenant exercise room, a sunroom being used as a greenhouse to foster hydroponic plantings, an outdoor residential garden, and bike storage. There is one apartment for an on-site superintendent.
The development team includes BronxPro, The Fortune Society and United Methodist City Society.
State Senator Luis Sepúlveda said, “We owe it to our most vulnerable constituency to provide real affordable housing and supportive services. I want to applaud BronxPro, Fortune Society, and United Methodist Church for coming together to build Trinity-Reverend James Senior Apartments in the neighborhood of Morrisania. Through this project, real affordable housing will be provided to our senior citizens in need who deserve access to permanent housing and high-quality services as they age in place. I hope this project is just one of many more as we work together to address housing insecurity and homelessness.”
State financing for the development includes $15.9 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $33 million in equity, $11.6 million in subsidy and $2 million through the Community Investment Fund program, all from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson said, “The opening of the Trinity-Reverend James Senior Apartments in the South Bronx is years in the making and is a huge win for our older adults that will benefit from not only having affordable housing, but also wrap-around services, fitness equipment, a residential garden and other essential amenities without having to leave their home. The Bronx has been devastated by years of systemic inequities that were further exacerbated by COVID-19, and as we attempt to recover from the pandemic, the need for housing has never been more important. I want to thank New York State Homes and Community Renewal, BronxPro, Fortune Society and United Methodist Church for their partnership on this project and commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have a right to affordable, quality, safe housing.”
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided $13 million through the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments program and Project-Based Vouchers for 106 households. Additional financing and development support was provided by Enterprise Community Partners, Freddie Mac, and JP Morgan Chase.
JoAnne Page, President and CEO, The Fortune Society, said, “Our prison and jail population is aging, and as older individuals leave incarceration, they encounter a world very different from the one they left. On top of that, they are faced with mental health, physical health, trauma and substance use issues often exacerbated by years of incarceration. Too many wind up in the shelter system because supportive housing for formerly incarcerated seniors is scarce and there is widespread landlord discrimination. The Mandaela Community at the Trinity-Reverend William James Senior Apartments addresses this urgent need by providing extensive, holistic support services—attuned to the experiences of homeless individuals who were previously incarcerated—that complement participants’ safe and comfortable new homes. These services also are available to justice-involved members of the broader Bronx community.”
On that same day, construction began on a $100 million affordable and supportive housing development in Far Rockaway, Queens.
The 17-story building with 194 apartments is the first phase of an 11-phase master redevelopment at the former Peninsula Hospital Center site.
Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson said, “I am ready to welcome the new development of Edgemere Commons that will transform and repurpose the old Peninsula Hospital Center site into another community anchor institution that will provide units for homelessness, adults with developmental disabilities, and a whopping total of 2,050 affordable and middle-income apartments. The rebuilding of the Rockaway Peninsula continues.”
Known as Edgemere Commons, the mixed-use community will eventually offer over 2000 affordable homes, retail, community space, medical facilities, and outdoor public space.
“Edgemere Commons is a transformative development that will improve the lives of residents and strengthen the entire Far Rockaway community for decades to come,” Governor Hochul said. “By investing in this $100 million mixed-use development, we are creating high-quality housing, medical services, commercial activity and public space that reenergize neighborhoods and build a more inclusive, safe, and vibrant community for all.”
The 11-phase master redevelopment is the result of a large-scale rezoning at the former Peninsula Hospital Center. Once complete, Edgemere Commons will include 2,050 affordable and middle-income apartments, publicly-accessible open space, new medical facilities, ground-floor retail shops, and parking.
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Edgemere Commons will be a game changer for the Far Rockaway community by increasing housing supply, generating new economic activity, and enhancing quality of life for everyone who calls this neighborhood home. Once complete, Edgemere Commons will offer thousands of modern apartments for families and seniors, integrated supportive homes, community facilities, and open public space. The State’s investment in the $100 million initial phase is an exciting first step that will deliver 194 affordable homes, including 59 with supportive services for adults who need assistance to live independently. Congratulations to all of our partners for making this development a reality.”
The new development works in concert with the goals of New York City’s Resilient Edgemere Community Plan, which lays the framework for continued investment by the City in the Edgemere community for years to come. Developed through community input, the plan pairs the City’s recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy with a long-term vision for a higher quality of life for Edgemere residents.
Mayor Adams said, “This project represents a much-needed investment and a critical new resource for a community that deserves it. With not only affordable homes but also public and retail space, we are making the best of this land and bringing safety, prosperity, and good health to hundreds of New Yorkers.”
The first building will feature 194 affordable apartments, 23,000 square-feet of ground floor retail space and 24,000 square-feet of parking for residents. The retail space is expected to include a supermarket, which was identified as an urgent need by community members during the public input period of the planning process.
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “OPWDD is proud to be part of this multi-phase project that will provide 29 new community-based opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to pursue their independence while providing them the right level of on-site supports from the Block Institute to help them succeed. Innovative housing initiatives, like Edgemere Commons, provide endless possibilities for the people we support to live and take part in their neighborhoods, and we applaud Governor Hochul for her ongoing commitment to ensuring that people with developmental disabilities are thoroughly supported to live with respect and dignity within their communities.”
The development will reserve 29 apartments for adults with developmental disabilities who will have access to on-site housing support services provided by the Block Institute.
An additional 30 apartments will be set aside for adults experiencing homelessness. These residents will have access to rental subsidies and supportive services through an Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative award administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health. The service provider is WellLife Network.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Backed by Governor Hochul’s support for the Brownfield Cleanup Program in the 2022-23 State Budget, New York State continues to follow through on its commitment to transform hundreds of underused, abandoned, and blighted properties into productive spaces that benefit the communities that surround them. With DEC’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Program and other funding from state and federal partners, the former Edgemere Commons in Queens will serve a useful purpose, providing affordable homes and retail space that will benefit generations to come.”
Residential amenities will include a community room, a recreation room, bicycle storage, laundry facilities, a roof terrace and outdoor activity space.
The building is designed to meet high standards for energy-efficiency and will pursue LEED Gold certification. Energy-efficient features include solar panels, Energy Star lighting, and Energy Star appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, bathroom fans and laundry machines. The Edgemere Commons master development will also incorporate resiliency measures to protect Far Rockaway against future storm events.
Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. said, “Breaking ground on the Edgemere Commons development represents what’s in store for the future of this coastal community: more affordable housing, more community resources, more grocery and dining options, more jobs, and most importantly, more preparedness for sea-level rise and superstorms like Hurricane Sandy. HPD’s Resilient Edgemere Community Plan is bringing millions of dollars in planned investment to not just rebuild, but re-envision what this community can become. Through projects like Edgemere Commons – and with the help of our partners in New York State government, Arker Companies, Slate Property Group, and Block Institute – we are making this dream a reality for the people who call Edgemere their home.”
The development team for the first building at Edgemere Commons consists of The Arker Companies and Slate Property Group.
State financing for the first phase includes $14.7 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds and Federal Low-Income Tax Credits that will generate $47.7 million equity from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz said, “This is an incredible project in our effort to tackle the city’s housing shortage. Edgemere Commons will soon be home to over 2,000 new affordable units for New Yorkers in a community that faces a critical housing need. Not only is this a major housing investment, but Edgemere Commons represents the type of holistic community development projects that are helping us provide all New Yorkers with the amenities, jobs and resources they deserve to have locally. Whether it is a new grocery store or community or public spaces on top of quality homes, one project at a time, we are building a more equitable and affordable New York City for all of our neighbors.”
The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is providing $5 million in support. OMH will be providing $750,000 annually to subsidize the 30 supportive units through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, as well as $258,000 in Program Development Grant start-up costs.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said, “Breaking ground on the first phase Edgemere Commons represents a major milestone in our shared effort to create a sustainable, resilient, and amenity-filled community that will bring much-needed and long-overdue affordable and supportive housing to the families of Rockaway. After years of blight stemming from the closure of the old Peninsula Hospital, the revolutionary Edgemere Commons is now one step closer to reality. The future of Edgemere and the entire Rockaway Peninsula is looking much brighter thanks to the development of Edgemere Commons.”
The site participated in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Program and became eligible for tax credits upon the project’s completion. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development is providing $22.7 million in subsidy.
David Schwartz, Principal, Slate Property Group, said, “We are proud to join the Edgemere community and break ground today on a project that will help shape the neighborhood’s bright future. Not only will the first phase provide nearly 200 new safe, affordable homes for the people of Edgemere, it will also bring a new economic life to a community that has been waiting for these resources. With this first building, we are one step closer to making this long-dreamt vision that puts the voices of the community first real.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation awarded Brownfield Cleanup Program Tax Credits that will generate $5.6 million in equity.
Featured rendering (courtesy of Aufgang Architects) shows Edgemere Commons.